What is Made in the USA?
So you’re looking for MUSA goods and products? Congratulations on your brilliance and a sincere thank you! We American manufacturers thank you for your recognition of the superior quality of American made products and your commitment to the improvement of our way of life by buying MUSA.
In this post, I just wanted to clear up what the Federal Trade Commission and other organizations qualify as “Made in USA” so you can be an informed consumer.
What is a “Made in USA” claim?
First off, there is no one claim that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates. The label can read Made in America, Made in the USA, American Made, or any other phrase or graphic that implies to the customer that the finished product is made stateside. In their words,
“In identifying implied claims, the Commission focuses on the overall impression of the advertising, label, or promotional material. Depending on the context, U.S. symbols or geographic references (for example, U.S. flags, outlines of U.S. maps, or references to U.S. locations of headquarters or factories) may convey a claim of U.S. origin either by themselves, or in conjunction with other phrases or images.”
This is the example given on the website, to help us understand.
To be able to claim Made in the USA, the product must have “ all or virtually all” of the product must be made in the states. Companies also cannot make this claim for entire product lines if only SOME of the products are Made in the USA.
However, the Made in America movement ( an incredible organization representing over 20,000 companies ), says on their website that their standards for members are:
“For MAM Membership, your product(s) should be at least 70% American made: raw materials, labor, and any related costs go into this figure; final assembly of the product must be in the USA. The company must be American owned. Service providers, suppliers, distributors, on-line retail stores, business associations, alliances, and organizations must be headquartered (100%) in the US and must employ US citizens. A letter of authenticity on company letterhead stating locations of all offices within the United States of America will be required.”
And the organization MadeInAmerica.com describes Made in USA this way:
What does the “all or virtually all” standard represent?
So what does “all or virtually all” mean? There aren’t specific numbers or percentages that are given on the FTC website as to what constitutes “all or virtually all.” Which can be confusing since it is left open to interpretation. According to the website,
"All or virtually all" means that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. That is, the product should contain no — or negligible — foreign content.”
Factors Considered in “All or Virtually All” Claims
Ok, so what factors does the FTC actually consider when deciding if a product is “all or virtually all” Made in the USA? Well, the first thing they consider is if the final processing or assembly is here in the US. That is not negotiable and once that has been established, the next thing to be considered is how much of the final costs of the manufacturing process can be attributed to American parts and processes. And they also look at how far removed any foreign materials are from the finished products. Again, in their own words:
Qualified Claims vs Unqualifed Claims
So you noticed the phrase “unqualified claim,” in the last section did you? What is an unqualified claim versus a qualified claim? To put it simply, an unqualified claim claims the entire product is Made in the USA, while a qualified claim breaks down the parts and processes made or performed in the US. For example, a label that reads “ Assembled in the USA with parts from Mexico,” is an example of a qualified claim.
But even these qualified claims can be misleading sometimes so the FTC offers this guidance on qualified claims.
"A qualified Made in USA claim is appropriate for products that include U.S. content or processing but don’t meet the criteria for making an unqualified Made in USA claim. Because even qualified claims may imply more domestic content than exists, manufacturers or marketers must exercise care when making these claims. That is, avoid qualified claims unless the product has a significant amount of U.S. content or U.S. processing. A qualified Made in USA claim, like an unqualified claim, must be truthful and substantiated.”
This isn’t a comprehensive explanation of all the regulations around the claim “Made in the USA” according to the FTC, but it is a good place to start. If you wanted to dig into the issue more, you can pop over to their website to read more about it at:
You can also check out The Made in America Movement
where you can also find a list of companies that are Made in America
Alliance for American Manufacturing