The change would give the agency new scope to seek civil penalties for Made in USA violations

The change would give the agency new scope to seek civil penalties for 'Made in USA' violations

The Federal Trade Commission is looking to turn its 'Made in USA' standard into a new 'Made in USA Labeling' rule to enable it to seek civil penalties to deter violations.

The change would prohibit marketers from including unqualified 'Made in USA' claims on labels unless: 

  • Final assembly or processing of the product occurs in the United States; 
  • All significant processing that goes into the product occurs in the United States; and 
  • All or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the United States.

The proposed rule would also cover labels making unqualified 'Made in USA' claims appearing in mail order catalogues or mail order advertising. However, it would not supersede, alter, or affect any other federal or state statute or regulation relating to country-of-origin labels. 

"Whether a product is actually 'Made in the USA' is an important issue for consumers, manufacturers, retailers, and American workers," says Andrew Smith, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. 

According to a 2013 study cited at an FTC workshop on Made in USA claims last autumn, almost three in five Americans agreed that 'Made in America' meant that all parts of a product, including any natural resources it contains, originated in the United States. A third of consumers also believed that 100% of a product must originate in a country for that product to be called "made" in that country.

The proposed rule, which would apply to product labels and "mail order" advertising, codifies the principles set forth in the FTC's 'Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims.' 

The FTC has so far only issued a notice of proposed rulemaking – and will be seeking comments on the proposed rule for 60 days