Which part of the US constitution delegates the US federal government the power to establish the agency "Food and Drug Administration"?

2 Answers 2


The long title of the 1906 act that established the FDA is "To prohibit the movement in interstate commerce of adulterated and misbranded food, drugs, devices, and cosmetics, and for other purposes."

The reader may note the phrase "interstate commerce", which is a power granted Congress to regulate in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3.


On a related note since the FDA get its authority from the commerce clause they do not have any authority in non-interstate food issues. Specifically since I was researching sausage, meat products must meet all FDA rules to be transported across state lines for sale, and all facilities involved in the handling of such meat must be inspected by the FDA. On the other hand custom processors (those who butcher meat from hunting) and farmer's market butchers may refuse inspection and have the FDA inspectors arrested for trespassing if they try to inspect anyway. In the case of the custom processor this is because although the meat may have crossed state lines and may again, it never is sold and in the case of farmer's markets although the meat is sold it never crosses state lines.

  • 19
    The caveat to this statement is Wickard v. Filburn, in which the Supreme Court ruled that regulating interstate commerce can be interpreted rather broadly. That is, the US government can regulate production and sale of items if said production/sale affects interstate commerce, even if those items themselves are never actually sold across state lines. (Note "can" - whether the government actually does regulate them or not is another question.)
    – R.M.
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 19:24
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    Yeah pretty sure none of this is even close to remotely true. It isn't really Wickard v. Filburn that's the problem, but Gonzales v. Raich. To quote the supreme court regulation is squarely within Congress' commerce power because production of the commodity meant for home consumption, be it wheat or marijuana, has a substantial effect on supply and demand in the national market for that commodity
    – Shane
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 21:39
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    If you raise your own crops or livestock, you aren't buying any/as much on the markets. Therefore, you are affecting the supply and demand on the interstate markets. Therefore, whenever you are not engaged in buying things or selling things, not engaged in doing any commerce at all, you are obviously engaging in interstate commerce. Laws r dum.
    – Shane
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 21:43
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    @Shane WIckard v. Filburn set the precedent that by not participating in interstate commerce, one was "affecting" it indirectly (supply/demand) and therefore Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce applied where no such commerce existed to be regulated. Gonzales v. Raich stood upon Wickard's mighty shoulders. Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 21:42
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    @hildred This answer is squarely in conflict with U.S. law and completely inaccurate. Your interpretation of the interstate commerce clause is simply wrong. There would be a good case for sanctioning you if you made that argument in court.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 5:06

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