“Made in the USA.”
Many shoppers scan the store racks and shelves to find products produced domestically. But what exactly does the designation mean?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, “Made in USA” means that “all or virtually all” of the product was made in America.
The FTC established and enforces the standard to ensure compliance by business and industry and confirm consumer confidence.
For a “Made in USA” claim to be made accurately, all significant parts, processing and labor that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. Products should not contain any — or only negligible — foreign content, the FTC stipulates.
In its 40-plus page guide, “Complying with the Made in the USA Standard,” the FTC gives a number of examples to help companies and consumers understand the “all or virtually all” guidelines.
One example includes: A company produces propane barbecue grills at a plant in Nevada. The product’s major components include the gas valve, burner and aluminum housing, each of which is made in the U.S. The grill’s knobs and tubing are imported from Mexico. An unqualified Made in USA claim is not likely to be deceptive because the knobs and tubing make up a negligible portion of the product’s total manufacturing costs and are insignificant parts of the final product.”
There is no law that requires manufacturers and marketers of most products to disclose U.S. content. In fact, it’s a manufacturer or advertiser’s choice to say whether a product is domestic ¬– except for autos and products made from textiles, wool and fur. (The American Automobile Labeling Act requires that every car sold domestically have a label showing where it was manufactured, what percentage of the content was made in the U.S. and Canada, and where the engine and transmission were made. The rules are enforced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)
While the FTC enforces the “Made in USA” standard, it’s the U.S. Customs Service that oversees the requirements that imported goods be marked with a foreign country of origin (for example, “Made in Japan”).
Reporting fraud vital
The FTC relies on consumers to tip them to infractions. Those who believe that a product is being erroneously promoted as “Made in USA” are urged to call the FTC toll-free, at 1-877-FTC-HELP or file a complaint online at ftc.gov.
To get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a video, “How to File a Complaint” at ftc.gov/video to learn more.
The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.