What is the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 January 2020
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The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) is a United States law that outlines the required labeling of consumer goods. Implemented in 1966, the law has been amended to include standardized units of measurement that must be reported both in metric and non-metric units. The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act was created to help ensure transparency of consumer safety and fairness issues such as the actual content in a package or the name of the manufacturer.

There are three primary provisions of the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, all geared toward allowing customers to be aware of the actual contents in a consumer product. First, the label must bear a statement that says what the product is, such as “aluminum foil,” or “green tea bags.” Second, the name and address or location of the producers, including the initial manufacturer, packing plant, or distributor, must be visible. Third, the net contents of the package, given by weight, volume, measurements, or number of items, must be included.


In 1992, Congress passed an amendment to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act that required that all net quantities be given in both non-metric inch/pound measurements and in accordance with the metric system. This system, known as dual-labeling was meant to reflect the push toward the metric system favored by many standards and measurement experts. In 2010, several organizations, including the government-run National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have begun to push for metric-only labeling of certain products, despite the dual-labeling requirement of the FPLA.

The primary reason for the creation of the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act was to reduce consumer fraud through misleading packaging. Some companies would charge higher prices for larger packaging without actually increasing the contained net components. A cereal company, for instance, might introduce a box of cereal twice as large as the original at twice the price, but only include 50% more cereal. By requiring the net contents to be measured and published on the packaging, consumers could know exactly what they were buying.

There are many types of products that are exempted from the standards of the FPLA. Generally, to fall under the protection of the law, the product needs to be for household use and consumed with use. For instance, a roll of paper towels is usually made for household purposes, and is consumed every time a piece is torn off. Windshield wiper fluid, though it is consumed through use, is not meant for the household, and thus is exempt. Other exemptions include toys, school supplies, gift wrap, alcohol, and pet supplies. Hazardous materials, such as pesticides, fall under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency and are not covered by the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.


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Post 1

We need to start using more metric measurements in the US. We need to start using a 21 st century modern measuring system. We start be allowing metric only labeling and also push for more metric labeling.

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