Two Senators Want to Fix Country of Origin Labeling Rules for Online Shoppers

By Matthew McMullan
May 14 2020 |
Is my Indiana University sweatshirt made in America? You better believe it, buddy. But if I were to shop for such a sweatshirt online right now, the seller doesn’t have to disclose its country of origin. What?!

Right now, COOL rules don’t apply to stuff purchased on the Internet.

Do you consider yourself a conscientious shopper? Concerned about where the products you purchase are made? If you’re into buying American or buying local, having a nice country-of-origin label (COOL) stamped on the products you purchase is helpful. I’ve turned over plenty of items at the hardware store, for example, to find out where they came from.

But did you know? If you buy something online, the website where you’re doing your shopping isn’t required to tell you where the product for sale was produced. If you’re shopping for something on Amazon, for instance, what you’re buying could be from anywhere, and counterfeit.

Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) have introduced legislation in Congress that would fix this problem. It’s called the COOL Online Act, and it would require two big things:

First, country-of-origin labeling for a product must be clearly stated in the website’s description of the product. And second, the country in which the seller of the product is located (and the country in which any parent corporation of the seller is located) must be included in the online product listing.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing supports this legislation. It would have been a good idea anytime, but it especially is now in the midst of a global health crisis.

Many states are reopening their economies in fits and starts. And while some of us are gonna get back out there and shop like nothing’s going on, plenty others won’t – not with the coronavirus going around. It will likely be with us in the United States for some time, thanks in no small part to insufficient medical supplies for healthcare workers fighting this disease and insufficient testing that that keeps us from knowing how far it has spread.

And so many of us will not be out shopping if we can help it. We’ll all be shopping online more often – one of the many changes to the function of our economy that are likely to be accelerated by the pandemic and the social distancing necessary to slow it down.

So it’d be super cool if we could know where what we’re buying came from!

Read more about the COOL Online Act at Senator Baldwin’s website. And if you're looking for American-made stuff, I promise you can find a lot of it on our own Made In America directory.