Senator Urges 'Made in U.S.A' Investigation After Troubleshooters Investigation - NBC Connecticut

Senator Urges 'Made in U.S.A' Investigation After Troubleshooters Investigation

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    Senator Urges 'Made in U.S.A' Investigation After Troubleshooters Investigation
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    U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy is calling on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to investigate fraudulent or misleading claims companies make about products being “Made in the U.S.A.” and said it follows an NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters investigation.

    The Troubleshooters' story cites Truth in Advertising, which found 200 total examples of Walmart mislabeling foreign-made products as American-made, including disposable spoons, children’s toys, and cosmetic sponges.

    What Made in the USA MeansWhat Made in the USA Means

    (Published Friday, July 24, 2015)

    When NBC Connecticut reached out to Walmart, the company issued the following statement:

    "We are very excited about the progress we are making on our 10 year, $250 billion commitment to buy products that support American jobs. We are continually working to improve our website listings and information. We are conducting a review of our site and continuing to work with our suppliers to help ensure we are giving our customers the transparency and authenticity they are looking for," said.

    A spokesman also said the company recently took down all "Made in the USA" badges online and is working to improve its website. He also mentioned some items, such as the plastic spoons, used to be made in China, but are now made in Ohio.

    In his letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Murphy warned that manufacturers and retailers are taking advantage of Americans’ willingness to pay more for the quality associated with American-made products by placing fraudulent origin labels on their products, and are harming genuine U.S. manufacturers by doing so.

    “As you know, businesses are only allowed to include a ‘Made in USA’ label if ‘all or virtually all’ of a product’s parts, processing, and labor are of U.S. origin. I have particular concern over fraudulent labels that are placed on products by retailers on outer packaging or in advertising for products. I ask to the greatest extent possible, you dedicate resources to these fraudulently labeled products and that you please communicate with me what resources Congress can provide to help you carry out more robust enforcement. Without enhanced enforcement practices, these abuses will continue to hurt real American manufacturers,” Murphy said.

    Murphy has previously introduced several amendments and pieces of legislation – including the 21st Century Buy American Act and the American Jobs Matter Act – that aim to strengthen existing standards and prioritize the purchase of American-made goods.

    Following is Murphy’s letter to Edith Ramirez, chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

    Dear Chairwoman Ramirez:

    I write on behalf of my constituents with concern over misleading claims of products labeled “Made in the USA.” I thank you for your past diligence in investigating mislabeled country of origin claims, but more must be done to prevent fraudulent origin labeling practices by retailers and manufacturers alike. With fraudulent “Made in the U.S.A.” labels, manufacturers and retailers are taking advantage of Americans’ willingness to pay more for the quality that is associated with an American-made product while harming manufacturers in my state and elsewhere.

    As you know, businesses are only allowed to include a “Made in USA” label if “all or virtually all” of a product’s parts, processing, and labor are of U.S. origin. Under the FTC Act, the Commission has the authority to investigate and bring legal action against fraudulent or misleading claims that a product originated in the United States.

    This standard applies to both manufacturers and retailers, who may include additional product origin labels after manufacturing is complete. I have particular concern over fraudulent labels that are placed on products by retailers on outer packaging or in advertising for products. The Commission’s effective enforcement of these regulations is crucial to ensuring honest product origin labeling and the protection of genuine U.S. manufacturers in Connecticut and throughout the country.

    We realize these regulations are difficult to enforce, especially while some bad actors choose to disregard or circumvent proper origin labeling standards. However, I ask to the greatest extent possible, you dedicate resources to these fraudulently labeled products. Further, I ask that you please communicate with me what resources Congress can provide to help you carry out more robust enforcement. Without enhanced enforcement practices, these abuses will continue to hurt real American manufacturers. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Christopher S. Murphy
    United States Senator