What Was the Wheeler-Lea Act?

The Wheeler-Lea Act of 1938 restricts companies from committing the act of false advertising. With this act, the Federal Trade Commission has the power to verify any claims made by food, drug and medical agencies to be sure that they fulfill their promises. The Wheeler-Lea act is also known as the Advertising Act, and is an amendment to the Federal Trade Commission Act.

Until the Wheeler-Lea was passed, only practices that were unfair to competitors were allowed to be restricted. Once the act was passed, the FTC was then allowed to determine if any company practiced unfair tactics that would deceive the consumer. The act, in its words, now officially declared that “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce are hereby declared unlawful.” This reduced the questionable medicinal remedies popular in earlier times and prohibited food companies from making false claims of health to appeal to consumers. With this act, all food, medicine and cosmetic companies were required to have their products and claims approved by the FTC before distributing it to the public. It is often used in reference to actions taken by the Food and Drug Administration, and serves as one of the most important acts in regards to American citizen protection.