What does the 'Made in the USA' claim actually mean for products?

Posted at 5:23 AM, May 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-22 14:52:38-04

When you make a purchase, do you look to see if an item was “Made in the USA?” Buying American made seems patriotic and helps the economy, but what do those claims really mean?

We’ve got the inside scoop from the federal agency that says it wants to be sure those “Made in the USA claims” are red, white and true.

Her mixware, her dinnerware, a table full of stuff in Sarah Wagner’s home…. all Made in the USA.

“When you make the choice to buy something American made you're making the choice to support your country and communities and jobs around the United States,” says Sarah.

Buying “American made” is so critical for Sarah, she started the website,, to help others find where they can buy items made in the good ‘ole USA.

“There is a lot out there that's still being made in America, I think that's worth celebrating,” said Sarah.
So, what does “Made in the USA” mean exactly? The Federal Trade Commission’s James
Kohm told us, “All, or virtually all, of the product is made in this country.”

The FTC is the go-to agency when it comes to defining “Made in the USA.” It even “polices products” to make sure what companies claim is accurate. Kohm is the Enforcement Division Director and says, “The importance is what marketers say has to be truthful.”

The agency says it gets several hundred complaints a year about Made in the USA Claims and the FTC has taken action against several companies. In one case, officials say a company imported steel plates that were already stamped “Made in the USA.’”

“What we want the public to know is that we're on the beat. That we're looking at these claims that they can contact us if they see a false claim,” Kohm said.

The FTC says a vast majority of “Made in the USA” claims are accurate. And the agency doesn’t want to dissuade people from buying American. But you can help the feds by reporting anything that’s suspicious. For example, Kohm tells us, “Sometimes individuals will call if there's a sticker, and they peel off the sticker and see under the ‘Made in the USA’ sticker ‘Made in China’.”
And while the FTC makes sure you’re getting good stuff, Sarah also has the scoop on where to get the goods.

“It's a joy to put this information out there because people are waiting for it, and want to know what products to buy,” said Sarah.

To learn more about “Made in the USA” label claims or learn how to file a complaint click the link here.