Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) voted to adopt a final “Made in the U.S.A.” rule that will provide the agency with greater enforcement tools to address the sale of imported goods by fraudulent claims that they were domestically produced. With the rule, the FTC will have the ability to pursue damages and penalties against companies that falsely claim to be selling goods originating in the United States.
The adoption of the rule imposes no new obligations on manufacturers and sellers. Instead, the rule enhances and augments the FTC’s authority to address circumstances when existing obligations are violated. In announcing the adoption of the rule, the Commissioners of the FTC explained that, in the past, false claims that products were “Made in the U.S.A.” were not penalized by the agency. The Commissioners reported that, under the agency’s past practice, “violators faced essentially no consequences whatsoever.” The Commissioners observed, “The final rule provides substantial benefits to the public by protecting businesses from losing sales to dishonest competitors, and protecting families seeking to purchase American-made goods.”
In September of last year, the Southern Shrimp Alliance submitted comments to the FTC strongly in support of the adoption of the proposed rule. The Southern Shrimp Alliance explained that deceptive and misleading labeling practices on restaurant menus have substantially undermined efforts to market domestic seafood. In adopting the final rule, the FTC declined to adopt a definition of “labeling” that included specific examples of what constitutes labeling, such as a restaurant menu, but emphasized that “the definition of a label does extend beyond labels that are physically affixed to a product.”
In its efforts to address fraudulent marketing of imported shrimp as a product of the United States, the Southern Shrimp Alliance has confronted a lack of enforcement of laws, at both the federal and state levels, that clearly prohibit deceptive practices. The FTC’s adoption of the “Made in the U.S.A.” rule, coupled with the Commissioners’ recognition of the agency’s past unwillingness to enforce prohibitions against false labeling of imported products as domestic, represents an important step forward.
Read the Statement of Commissioner Rohit Chopra, Joined by Chair Lina Khan and Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter Regarding the Adoption of the Final Made in USA Rule (July 1, 2021) here: https://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/final_chopra_statement_regarding_the_adoption_of_the_final_made_in_usa_rule.pdf
Read about the Southern Shrimp Alliance’s September 10, 2020 comments to the Federal Trade Commission here:
Have you seen imported shrimp sold as domestic shrimp on a restaurant’s menu? Report shrimp fraud here: