Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



If the attention or lack of attention law reviews give to a subject is indicative of the amount of governmental control therein, then one would conclude that there is little federal regulation in the food and drug fields. The fact is, however, that there are more than 1,200 pages of federal statutes and administrative regulations affecting the food and drug industries, and no industry is more tightly controlled. The antitrust, securities, and labor statutes, for example, are, if anything, less stringent.

In the main, the approach of food and drug regulation is from a different point of view than that of many governmental controls of business. The Sherman Antitrust Act, the various financial and banking acts, important aspects of the Federal Trade Commission Act, and many others are concerned with business practices. Is this a restraint of trade; is this monopoly power; is this an unfair method of competition? The Sherman Act is a statute to help business, to make competition work, to promote the success of the capitalistic theory. With some exceptions, food and drug controls are aimed primarily at the protection of the consumer. Is this product adulterated? Is this drug safe? Is it properly labeled? The accent is on both health and economics from the consumer's viewpoint.

This consumer-protection approach results in tough regulation of business. For example, the food and drug producer frequently is held to strict or absolute liability under a criminal statute; intent and knowledge are not material.