FDA Marketing Regulations

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was established more than 100 years ago in response to despicable produce and marketing practices. John Updike's novel "The Jungle" revealed vile food handling processes in American slaughterhouses and meat packing plants, and so-called medicines marketed to cure everything were found to instead be poisonous and destructive. In response, the U.S. Government intervened. Today, the FDA is charged with ensuring consumer safety against deceptive or inadvertently misleading information for the nation's food and drug supply. Regulations monitor the manner in which products are described, the ingredients and disclosure of known side effects.


The FDA dissuades food and drug manufacturers from making claims about products not proven through scientific methods. Early soda drink manufacturers would advertise that their products improved stamina. Chesterfield cigarettes once claimed that smoking aided in digestion. Today, the FDA will only sanction advertising extolling known qualities and product benefits. Advertising may say Coca Cola tastes better than Pepsi, but there must be documented incontrovertible proof for making a statement of potency or health benefit.

Drug manufacturers can only add attributes to a product other than the tested and approved remedy when further testing is complete. Aspirin was marketed for decades as a pain reliever. Later research revealed that aspirin also aids with heart conditions. After additional testing proved the claim, aspirin manufacturers could add this treatment to the list of reasons to buy their product.


Food and drug manufacturers must reveal all chemical and mineral ingredients. Although they are not required to reveal trade secrets and the manner the ingredients are formulated, the base chemical compounds and any added mineral content must be released. Manufacturers are not required to list ingredients in all advertising, but labeling laws require that graphic packaging used to market products have all ingredients clearly listed.

Side Effects

Anyone who has read, seen or heard a drug advertisement is aware that the manufacturer is required to list all known side effects. Food manufacturers, however, are also required to announce side effects. Well-known allergies to peanut products and shellfish mean that any food containing these ingredients in any amount must be made public through packaging or advertising messages.

Furthermore, when previously unknown side effects are discovered through public consumption, manufacturers are required to further study the products and quantify how and under what conditions such side effects occur. The FDA requires all food and drug manufacturers maintain constant vigilance as to the effects of their products in the marketplace and with consumers.