Posted: May 14, 2023
It's certainly possible, given the FTC's current crackdown on unqualified “Made in USA” claims.
What is an unqualified “Made in USA” claim?
An unqualified claim means there are no limitations on the claim; the claim is simply and completely "Made in USA."
The FTC's Made in USA Labeling Rule was finalized in July 2011.
These are the final Rule's requirements for an unqualified claim which the FTC construes strictly, meaning there is no wiggle room.
* “The final assembly or processing of the product occurs in the United States,”
* “All significant processing that goes into the product occurs in the United States,” and
* “All or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the United States.”
In 2021, the FTC expanded an earlier administrative order against Resident Home LLC and its owner for the payment of an additional $753,000 to resolve additional violations involving unqualified “Made in USA” claims that had been addressed earlier in 2018.
What is a qualified "Made in USA" Claim?
In the 2021 order, the FTC also addressed qualified “Made in USA” claims.
Qualified claims include explanatory information that limit the scope of the claim.
The FTC stipulated that qualified claims must:
* Include a clear disclosure for the extent that a product contains foreign parts, ingredients, components or processing.
* If a product is assembled in the United States, it must be last substantially transformed in the United States, meaning that its principal assembly must take place in the United States and that the United States assembly operations must be substantial.
Subsequently, NAD reviewed a case between two competitors involving "Made in USA" claims.
Specifically, the challenger alleged that the advertiser had made deceptive claims, including “Made in the U.S.A.,” “All-American,” and “All Ready Hour Products are proudly made in the U.S.A.”
The advertiser agreed to add the following qualification statement to one of its products: “Made in the USA from Domestic and/or Imported Ingredients.”
The qualification statement added by the advertiser in the NAD case is consistent with the FTC's concept of an unqualified claim, provided that the FTC's other background requirements are satisfied.
If your target market audience likes products made in the U.S., a qualified “Made in USA” claim may go a long way toward satisfying your audience while also protecting you from aggressive FTC claims.