Three Senate Democrats have directed a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) insisting it fully enforce its “Made in the USA” labeling standards in the aftermath of recent agency decisions to settle with companies that allegedly marketed foreign-made goods as domestically produced.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin drafted a memorandum to the FTC on Monday stating they were concerned about recent agency decisions to reach “no-fault, no-money” settlements with companies alleged to have sold imported equipment under a “Made in the USA” label, instead of pursuing fines and admissions of guilt from the firms involved.
“The commission plays a critical role in ensuring that American-made products are truly Made in America,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to require the companies in these cases to pay fines and admit they lied.”
The senators demanded that the FTC use its regulatory authority to enforce the labeling standards, saying that its failure to do so was both diminishing the value and reputation of the “Made in the USA” label and hurting American manufacturers. Firms who maintain the integrity to produce “Made in USA” products deserve to be recognized, and those who do not deserve to be prosecuted if they fraudulently claim to be “Made in USA” in hopes of charging a premium.
“Consumers view American-made goods more positively and are often willing to pay a higher price for them,” the senators wrote. “In addition, consumers may be less likely to have health or quality concerns about a product when its true country of origin is concealed.”
Moreover, these settlements create a dangerous precedent that would allow other firms to use the “same deceptive tactics” in the future, the senators said.
One of the incidents cited in the memorandum involved mattress company Nectar Brand LLC, which does business under the name Nectar Sleep. The Federal Trade Commission accused Nectar Brand of marketing its mattresses as being “Made in USA” , when in reality the mattresses were assembled and imported from China.
In March, the FTC and Nectar Brand LLC settled the case, with the accused agreeing to stop fraudulently promoting its Chinese-made mattresses as “assembled in the USA” and to refrain from making “untrue, misleading or unsubstantiated country-of-origin claims” on any of its products, according to FTC.
The other cited case involved four New York sporting goods companies which had been accused of falsely marketing Chinese-made hockey pucks and backpacks as Made in USA, and like Nectar, agreed to settle with the FTC last week. In all of these cases, the accused walked away unharmed, not having to pay fines or having to admit wrongdoing.
Made in USA claims should be independently and objectively authenticated to protect American manufacturers and consumers without having to rely on the oversight of an anemic Federal Trade Commission.
Verity One USA, the industry leader in Country of Origin labeling and certification for a decade, is the only supply chain and country of origin verification company that has been successfully vetted by a US Agency during the FTC Country of Origin Labeling Investigation of 2014. Verity’s proprietary supply chain verification process was found to have met and exceeded the standards of the country of origin labeling set the by the FTC. As a result of continued business, Verity was able to register for the USPTO Word Marked “Made in the USA Certified®” claim. Verity uses Blockchain, IBM WatsonⓇ Artificial Intelligence, and The Internet of Things to independently validate marketing claims, like Made in USA, and then track and trace the products throughout the supply chain.