Trusting the Made in [Nation] Label

By Taylor Garland
Nov 03 2014 |
Made in America jeans by AG Adriano Goldschmied. | Photo via Nordstrom.

The Federal Trade Commission and a California judge crack down on Made in America claims.

The focus on American manufacturing in recent years hasn’t exactly led to the exploding job growth in the sector (we’ve only added +189,000 of the 1 million goal President Obama set for his second term). But when it comes to consumers, nothing gets more economically patriotic than buying or selling American-made products.

Even America’s largest retailer has launched a public relations campaign promoting American-made goods. But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and some in California are cracking down on these claims.

In recent months, the FTC has gotten tough on companies that issue “Made in USA” certifications. The issue: the company distributing these certifications did not independently check to see if the product was indeed made in the United States:

Seals can be very helpful when consumers purchase products based on claims that are difficult to verify – like the Made-in-the-USA claim. When marketers provide seals without any verification, or without telling consumers the seal is unverified, consumers are deceived and the value of all marketers’ seals is diminished.  This case makes it clear that the FTC will not let that happen. Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection

In California, a state consumer-protection law details exactly what can be labeled or marketed as Made in America. That law is at the core of a class-action lawsuit against AG Jeans and Nordstrom. The plaintiff claims he bought a pair of AG Jeans because he believed they were Made in the U.S. and thought he was supporting U.S. jobs and economy.

Producers, retailers, and marketers realize the competitive edge that a Made in America label can give a product. It’s important that the FTC and others keep them honest.