On the matter of product safety, domestic manufacturers actually have the ability to know what is in their products. Their materials suppliers, if they also are domestic producers, generally have to provide material safety data sheets and other documentation describing their raw goods. If an American raw materials supplier changes its ingredients formulation or its bill of materials without advising its customers, that failure to inform could constitute civil fraud, with all its attendant legal remedies. Thus, if an American manufacturer has a testing laboratory evaluate its products for compliance with Proposition 65 or the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (HR 4040), and the testing laboratory states that the materials used meet acceptable limits, the domestic supplier can certify, based on those tests, that its products meet the standards. Ask yourself the following questions: If you import items from overseas, how can you know what is in those products? How can you prove to your customers that each lot will meet product safety standards? And why would an end-buyer risk its brand equity on a promotional item that may or may not meet product safety standards?
As an aside, distributors and end-buyers concerned with product safety can take some comfort from the statement, “Made in USA” or its equivalent. The Federal Trade Commission’s standard for that claim reads, “all or virtually all” of the product must be of U.S. origin. Feel free to ask for confirmation from your supplier that “all or virtually all” of the product in question is of American origin; at least then, you have improved the odds that the supplier knows, or can find out, what is in the item.
Service is the key in our industry, as any veteran player will attest. Being an American manufacturer gives that supplier a series of “unfair advantages” over almost any importer. If you make the product, how likely are you to run out of stock? Not very likely. Ask the same question of an importer, and you may get a different answer.