A recent announcement from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will strengthen enforcement of the Made in the USA standard. FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra described the action as “long-overdue.” Under the finalized rule, unqualified Made in USA claims will be more actively penalized. Civil penalties of up to $43,280 per violation can be levied against products making false claims. The final rule from FTC will codify the agency’s enforcement policy to help deter fraud and provide restitution for those suffering from fraudulent Made in the USA claims.
On the heels of the FTC final rule announcement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is also addressing the issues of labeling. USDA has indicated that the department will be reviewing the Made in the USA standard. The review of the standards will help to inform future rulemaking decisions for labeling standards. Multiple petitions have been filed with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in recent years, calling for a revision of labeling rules.
“After considering the many comments received by the FTC and USDA on this issue, we are initiating a top-to-bottom review of the “Product of USA” label that will, among other things, help us to determine what that label means to consumers,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “USDA will complement the FTC’s efforts with our own initiative on labeling for products regulated by FSIS, an area of consumer labeling where USDA has a long tradition of protecting consumers from false and misleading labels.”
Several agricultural groups have issued messages of support for the improved strengthening of the Made in the USA standard. The Consumer Federation of America along with the National Farmers Union have both expressed appreciation for the moves to improve Made in the USA guidelines. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association have also long been proponents of upgrading labeling requirements.