This Advertisement has been Vetted and Approved by the FDA (2)

The FDA, in its vetting process for advertisements for pre-packaged foods, pays particular attention to whether the advertisement derides (directly or indirectly)other products which it is in competition with, whether the advertisement imitates other advertisements and whether the claims made in the advertisement are complete, truthful and substantiated.[1]

It is also worth mentioning that the Guidelines require advertisements for pre-packaged foods not to be framed in a manner that exploits the superstitious beliefsor emotionsof the consumers to induce fear in them so they purchase the product.[2]

The approval given by the FDA for advertisements of pre-packaged food lasts for a year.[3] The Guidelines do not mention whether this is subject to renewal.

The requirements that apply to advertisements for pre-packaged food apply also to alcoholic beverages. However, the Guidelines provide for additional requirements, due to the nature of these drinks and their effects on the health of their consumers.[4]

Advertisements for alcoholic beverages are required to contain the following health warnings: “Drink Responsibly”, “Not for sale to persons under 18 years of age”, “Not recommended for pregnant women.”[5]

These health warnings must be visible and placed at the bottom of the advertisement. The Guidelines further stipulate that the health warnings must not be less than 30% of the biggest font size in the advertisement,and where the advertisement is on television or social media, the health warnings are to run as crawls and throughout the entire duration of the advertisement. Where the advertisement is read out on radio or even on television, the Guidelines require that they shall be audible, clear and well-paced.[6]

The Guidelines even go further to prescribe that all alcoholic retail outlets shall display health warnings on their premises.[7] Radio and television advertisements are also not to be aired between the hours of 6 pm and 8 pm. 

One interesting requirement is that no advertisement is to imply that consumption of the advertised beverage is required for: social or professional achievement, personal success, any sporting activity, sexual prowess, pleasure, resolution of social, physical or personal problems and appetite.[8] This caught my attention due to the number of advertisements for alcohol that imply that the advertised drink can enhance sexual performance or resolve a social or personal problem.

Another requirement that fascinated me was that no well-known personality or professional is to be used in alcoholic beverage advertising.[9] Initially, I thought this requirement was not being enforced but after thinking long and hard, I could not recall any recent advertisement for alcohol that has a well-known personality in it. 

The Guidelines then deal with the requirements for energy drink advertisements. Advertisements for energy drinks must include the following health warnings, “Excessive drinking can be detrimental to health,” and “Not Recommended for persons under 18 years, lactating mothers, pregnant women and people sensitive to caffeine.”[10] Funny enough, I have never seen an advertisement for energy drinks that bears both health warnings. Or maybe I just don’t watch enough television or pay attention to billboards in town. 

This aside, energy drinks must not be advertised as a substitute for rest, remedy for fatigue, sexual non-performance or any other physical non-performance.[11]

The entire vetting and approval process is to be completed in 21 daysby the FDA, provided that all the statutory requirements have been met.[12]Where an advertisement script fails to comply with the Guidelines, the FDA is required to notify the applicant of this within 7 working days.[13]Here, the applicant may decide to respond to the FDA and address the issues raised by the FDA within 3 months, if not, the applicant has to review the advertisement and re-apply for vetting and approval.[14]

I hope this little piece has made things clearer. The FDA has a copy of these Guidelines on their official website for your viewing pleasure. Click on this linkfor direct access to the Guidelines. 


[1]Sections 3.1.8 and 3.1.10 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods. 

[2]Section 3.1.11 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods. 

[3]Section 3.1.13 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods. 

[4]Section 3.2 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods.

[5]Section 3.2.1 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods.

[6]Section 3.2.3 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods.

[7]Section 3.2.4 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods.

[8]Section 3.2.7 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods.

[9]Section 3.2.10 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods.

[10]Section 3.3.1 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods.

[11]Section 3.3.3 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods.

[12]Section 6.2 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods.

[13]Section 6.3 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods.

[14]Sections 6.4 and 6.5 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods.

Sedinam Botwe

Sedinam Botwe

Sedinam Botwe is a final year law student at the University of Ghana, Legon who actively enjoys writing and research. She has a blog of her own where she discusses seemingly ordinary life situations and their not so obvious legal implications.

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