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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Made in America

“I’ve been wanting to purchase new dishes . . . new stainless steel pots and pans . . . new . . . and I want to buy ones made in America. It seems everything I look at was made by our friends in China . . . Malaysia . . . Pakistan . . . Mexico . . . Is there a list somewhere of products made in the United States?” This is a question even asked by members of the Newton Falls Public Library staff who wish to support local industries.

There are strict standards which must be met in order for a company to claim that their product was ‘made in the USA.’ According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Facts for Business [], “For a product to be called Made in USA, or claimed to be of domestic origin without qualifications or limits on the claim, the product must be ‘all or virtually all’ made in the U.S. The term ‘United States’ as referred to in the Enforcement Policy Statement, includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories and possessions.” It is very interesting to read this document in full, as it alerts consumers about the different ways manufacturers can imply domestic origins, including general terms such as “created in.”

As companies are bought and sold, and production locations are moved; it is often difficult for a consumer to find a product’s country of origin. Congress has attempted to deal with this on different occasions. During the 106th Congress (1999-2000), Rep. James Traficant co-sponsored a bi-partisan bill, H.R. 754: Made in America Information Act, to establish a toll-free phone number to assist consumers in determining if a product was made in the United States. He reintroduced it during the next session as H.R. 725. There was also a similar bill in 1994, H.R. 3342. All three bills were passed in the House of Representatives and were referred to Senate committees, but never became law.

There are many websites which offer listings of companies who manufacture products in the United States. This is only a sampling of all the sites and companies producing in the United States: Americans At Work [], lists by product types, includes links to the companies’ homepages, and says they check to confirm that the listings are valid; at Made In USA [], users also submit products to the website; Shop For America [] is an e-commerce site; Still Made in USA [] gives very detailed information including what accessories may be imported; and US Stuff [] suggests that the consumer should double check everything, as sometimes a company formerly manufacturing in America moves production.

The company websites are also useful tools including a description and history of the company. It is also good to closely check the actual product you are considering for purchase, reading all labels and packaging, as some companies have products both foreign and domestically made.

Back to the initial questions about dishes and stainless steel cookware. Some of the American companies which still manufacture dishes are Hartstone Pottery, The Homer Laughlin Company which is famous for its Fiesta dishware, Niagara China, and Pickard China which over the years has manufactured official china for U. S. embassies, Blair House, Camp David and Air Force One. All-Clad Cookware, Diamond Craft, Kitchen Craft Cookware, and Lifetime Cookware are some of the American stainless steel pan manufacturers.

There used to be a television show on the Travel Channel [], John Ratzenberger’s Made in America. Each week an American-made product was featured.

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