Red, White and Gray
Unfortunately, the “virtually all” nomenclature is vague at best, and thus, products can easily be mislabeled.
According to a March 2008 Consumer Reports primer entitled, “Made in the USA? The Truth Behind the Labels,” there are a lot of cooks in the regulatory kitchen, so to speak, including the FTC, the Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “The federal agencies (there are at least five) that oversee and enforce the rules on what’s ‘made in the USA’ don’t always see eye-to-eye,” it read.
Because of the delightful subtleties of the English language, and the fact that labeling confusion can arise in various places along the item’s production cycle, here are a few salient points to remember, culled from the FTC’s report, “Complying with the Made in the USA Standard,” as well as information from Consumer Reports.
• The FTC does not approve or deny claims of domestic manufacturing. A company is expected to police itself.
• The “all or virtually all” wording takes into account three main criteria: how much of an item’s total manufacturing cost is allocated to domestic-made parts, how far removed imported content is from the final product, and that the final assembly or processing of an item has taken place in the U.S.
• A made-in-the-USA claim can be expressed or implied. An expressed claim means a product carries the “made in the USA” label sans equivocation and must comply with the “all or virtually all” standard as defined by the FTC. An implied claim doesn’t have to do with a label, so much as the marketing materials associated with it. If wording such as “true American quality” exists, or American flags are printed all over an item’s packaging, it might be considered disingenuous if the product is not made here.