Instant Brands advertises that its Pyrex glass products are "Proudly Made in USA" and as "American as Apple Pie." For many years, it appears that Instant Brands' claims complied with the requirements set forth in FTC's Made in USA Labeling Rule. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and consumers who were stuck at home turned to baking for solace, Instant Brands had trouble meeting the increased demand for its products and it had to look for options outside the country.
For about ten months between 2021 and 2022, Instant Brands shifted the production of some of its measuring cups to China. The company did not, however, shift its marketing strategy, and some ads still suggested that its products were made in the USA. According to the FTC, though, more than 110,000 customers who ordered measuring cups that were advertised as "Made in USA" on Amazon received products that were labeled as "Made in China." That's clearly not where apple pie originated.
(Incidentally, there are some who allege that apple pie actually originated in England, rather than America, but the FTC side-stepped that debate, and so will we.)
The FTC questioned whether Instant Brands could support its "Made in USA" claims. Even if the company could support the claims most of the time, the FTC argued that the change in the supply chain rendered claims during that ten-month period misleading. Ultimately, Instant Brands decided to settle the FTC's investigation by agreeing to pay $129,000 and to make several changes to its marketing practices.
This settlement is an important reminder that advertisers have a continuing obligation to ensure they can support their claims at all times they are in the market. That's true not only of "Made in USA" claims, but also of any other objective claims. If you're no longer able to support a claim - even if you could at the time you first made it - you must generally change it or take it down. Click here for an extreme example of how that principle can apply to comparative claims.
"Made in the USA" claims are going continue to be a hot topic for the FTC. Click here for more posts related to those claims. And click here for more posts related to baking.
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