Jan. 11, 2013
-- In the late 1990's, as American companies were progressively moving its manufacturing overseas, the Federal Trade Commission reviewed the labeling regulations and concluded that the 'Made in the USA' label could only be used if 'all' or 'virtually all' of the product was made in the USA. With the current popularity of buying products manufactured in the USA, questionable labels are showing up in apparel, footwear and electronics. What does the FTC say about this? "The FTC is very clear about these misleading marketing tactics" says Rosalind Haley, owner of Plaza-USA.com. "If a company wants to include any 'American-made' or 'USA-made' in its labeling, it must list all the countries involved in the manufacturing of the product. It must be clearly visible on a label or the packaging". For example, if a portion of the product was manufactured in China and another portion in the U.S. and the company wants to simply use a 'Made in China' label, it does not need to disclose that some of the product was manufactured in the U.S.. But if the same company wants to print 'Made in the USA' on the label or its packaging, then each and every country involved in the manufacturing of that product, must be listed.
What about the label that reads 'Designed in the USA' or 'Assembled in the USA'? Arguably deceptive, the FTC states that if the product lists all the countries involved, then it is not illegal. For example, if a shirt was manufactured in India but the cuffs were manufactured in the United States, it can not have a simple 'Made in the USA' label, as it was not 'all' or 'virtually all' 'Made in the USA'. The label can read 'Made in India' with 'Made in the USA cuffs'. Or it can simply read 'Made in India'. Rosalind Haley mentions, "I contacted a jean company last week to find out where the jeans were manufactured. The representative told me they were designed in the United States.....who asked where were they designed?". Companies wanting to capture some of the 'American Made' trend will continue to be creative in their marketing and labeling efforts. We should expect to see an increase in the use of these illusive labels in the future.