Government Regulatory Agency and its Impact on Consumer Choices

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The Food and Drug Administration

The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) is a government agency that deals with regulation of the food and drugs industry in the United States of America. The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protection of consumers against harmful food products and drugs. The FDA is one of the oldest regulatory agencies in the U.S. having been established in 1862 by former President Abraham Lincoln (Idzik, Meyer & Compliance Media, 2008). The agency has been granted the power to declare certain food products and drugs harmful and unsuitable for consumption in the United States.

According to Hilts (2010), the FDA is a key player in the healthcare industry in United States because it provides crucial health care information to the federal and state governments, the general public and consumers about foods and drugs.

Roles of the Food and Drug Administration

The major roles of the agency are regulation and supervision of the food industry as well as the drugs or pharmaceuticals industry. The Food and Drug Administration also controls the distribution and marketing of tobacco products, dietary supplements and sale and distribution of over-the-counter drugs in the U.S. The agency also regulates the transfusion of blood and use of blood-related products, use of medical devices and distribution of veterinary products. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration formulates and enforces laws and regulations on sanitation, inter-state travels and prevention of communicable diseases such as measles and polio. All these laws and regulations aim at improving the health of the public thus are also considered health care services, especially with respect to consumers.

According to Hilts (2010), most activities of the FDA aim at protecting consumers from harmful products thus help in promotion of high-quality health amongst the people of America. The activities, rules and regulations of the FDA based on provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and Public Health Service Act.

The agency also shares regulatory responsibilities on other health care sectors with other agencies such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department for Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Services.

Rationale for choosing Food and Drug Administration

In my view, most of the regulations, activities and services of the Food and Drug Administration aim at protecting consumers from using food products and drugs that are harmful to their health. For example, Food and Drug Administration emphases on purity and labeling of foods and drugs in order to ensure that consumers use safe products. Thus, the services provided can be classified as health care services.

In addition, the regulatory activities of FDA have great impacts on the choices made by consumers. Hayes (2007) also affirms that the impacts of regulatory activities of the FDA on consumer choices and the economy cannot be ignored. For example, Phillips and Van (2009) asserts that the Food and Drug Administration regulates consumer goods worth more than one trillion U.S. dollars every year. This accounts for approximately twenty-five percent of the total expenditures by consumers in the United States. Similarly, the FDA also monitors one-third of all food imports into the United States. This indicates that the Food and Drug Administration plays an important role in the consumer market as well as the economy.

How the Food and Drug Administration Impacts Consumer Choices

Regulatory activities of the Food and Drug Administration have numerous impacts on the choices made by consumers in relation to consumption of food products and drugs in the United States. Most consumers usually use the information provided by the agency while making decisions on what type of products to purchase. For example, most consumers will tend to avoid those foods and drugs that have not been approved or have been declared unsafe or unsuitable for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA also requires companies manufacturing foods and drugs to label their products. Consumers usually use information on such labels to make purchase decisions. For example, a survey conducted by Post et al. (2010) on health and diet revealed that fifty-four percent of consumers often use food labels when purchasing food items for the first time. The survey also claimed that thirty percent of the consumers surveyed reportedly changed their minds about particular food items after reading the nutritional labels (Post et el., 2010).

Moreover, the FDA requires all companies to advertise their products fairly by making clear statements about the benefits derived from using the products as well as their side effects. Such information is usually used by consumers during purchases. For instance, if a consumer notices that a food item contains particular ingredients that he is allergic to, the consumer is likely to avoid purchasing that product. Besides, consumers tend to retreat from consuming foods products and drugs that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration such as new drugs that are still under approval process by the New Drug Application (NDA). Thus, most consumers make their choices based on the information provided by the agency.

Conclusion

In my view, the regulatory activities of the Food and Drug Administration impact consumer choices in various ways. For example, through labeling of foods and drugs, consumers obtain essential information that they use as guidelines when making purchases. Labels and warnings on foods and products also increase the awareness of consumers about the products, hence assist during decision-making processes. Although the FDA has been criticized for denying consumers their rights to access unapproved foods and drugs, I would argue that the agency acts for the safety and interests of consumers.

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