Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Post of the Week Created with Sketch. Changing My Mind on “Country of Origin” Labeling Thanks to China

 

I’ve always tried hard to keep an open mind on all issues, whether religion, trade, national security, you name it. I’ve now changed my mind on an issue I’ve worked on for more than 20 years as a food lobbyist (now retired): country of origin labeling.

It’s been an uphill battle, until now. Most Americans have long been interested in knowing where their products come from, even if they have to meet the same safety standards as domestic products. That’s mostly true in the food world. My argument: all foods sold in the US have to meet the same safety and labeling standards, no matter where grown or raised. Even though we know that most of the world’s food safety “issues” seem to come from products made in two countries (there are others, in fairness): Mexico, but especially China. And frankly, most Americans really haven’t changed their buying habits because of country of origin labeling. But I think that’s about to change, and in a big way.

China, thanks to its malevolence in this whole coronavirus issue (we are just beginning to learn just how bad they are), has confirmed its status as a malign, untrustworthy, corrupt and evil player. While the United States lives by international trade rules and should NOT automatically terminate trade in Chinese ingredients and products, it is now in our national, if not our personal interest to know that they originate from a truly Evil Empire that means us harm, or worse.

I suspect that Congress might just be in a mood to ensure prominent country of origin labeling for products made in China, or clear labeling that products are made with ingredients or components made in China, very prominently. Not just food, of course, but everything – minerals, technology, you name it.

Did you know, for example, that nearly all dietary supplements, vitamins, and those they add to foods, are derived from China? You probably didn’t, since it’s not disclosed. That needs to change.

So, as a means to discourage consumption of Chinese products, I’m all in on “country of origin” labeling, including disclosing that ingredients or components come from China. First, it will show us just how much we depend on this wonderful country and people under the control of an evil communist government. Second, do not be misled by the claim by some US companies that this is their manufacturing that happens to be in China. China requires that almost all American or foreign enterprises in China be established as a joint venture with a state-owned entity, under strict conditions (and high taxes).

Let your Member of Congress know that it is time.

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  1. Sandy Member

    Agree. Judging by the questions asked about products on Amazon by prospective buyers, I’d say there is a substantial interest in where a product is made, and in particular there appears to be a desire to avoid things made in China. A big part of this, I believe, is the belief that the Chinese have poor quality control, but I don’t think that’s the only reason. China has been like Google: you don’t want to use them, but they are almost impossible to avoid. Labeling is an essential aid.

    • #1
    • April 11, 2020, at 6:53 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  2. Al French of Damascus Moderator

    There has been a widespread distrust of Chinese products in the Vietnamese American community for a long time.

    • #2
    • April 11, 2020, at 8:21 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    Ever since China poisoned our pets with melamine (including mine), I try not to buy pet food made in China. But as noted above, it’s hard to avoid. I don’t normally seek redress, but after my cat died I made the pet food companies pay me the thousands of dollars I spent on her care, just to make them hurt for what they did.

    • #3
    • April 11, 2020, at 10:29 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  4. Ray Kujawa Coolidge

    I purchased some consumer electronics earlier this year and noticed it was made in Taiwan. I was a little surprised that China’s influence does not prevent such labeling. Obviously products for consumers are made in Taiwan and they can be labeled as such.

    • #4
    • April 12, 2020, at 3:11 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  5. Retail Lawyer Member

    I want to see “China Free” emblazoned on food packaging like “Fat Free” and “Gluten Free” currently is. And “No China” like “No GMO”.

    • #5
    • April 12, 2020, at 5:20 AM PDT
    • 18 likes
  6. Stad Thatcher

    Bucknelldad: So, as a means to discourage consumption of Chinese products, I’m all in on Country of Origin labeling, including disclosing that ingredients or components come from China.

    How about tariffs?

    • #6
    • April 12, 2020, at 5:44 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Steve C. Member

    China Free, avoids a whole swamp of complications.

    COI (country of origin) labeling is required to import items into the US. If the tag reads “made in China”, you can be confident the importer “declared” it as such. The rules get Byzantine when the end product is a combination of items originally manufactured in more than one nation. “Domestic content” rules make fine, often unintelligible distinctions.

    Don’t give them any wiggle room. China Free.

    • #7
    • April 12, 2020, at 9:43 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  8. Skyler Coolidge

    Al French, PIT Geezer (View Comment):

    There has been a widespread distrust of Chinese products in the Vietnamese American community for a long time.

    Agreed and it’s not just that ethnic group. Many of us know that China has been lying and cheating about safety of their products for a very long time. I’m glad others are finally waking up. 

    It has not just been product safety and industrial espionage that are worrisome. It he ever been obvious that should there be a crisis such as a war or an epidemic, that we would not be able to rely on China as a source for all our needs. Sending all our manufacturing overseas Is so bad that you’d think only our worst enemies could execute such a plan. But in fact it was the Clintons. And the Bushes. 

    • #8
    • April 12, 2020, at 12:07 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    I’m encouraging people to read this speech by Pompeo at the Governor’s Conference.

    https://www.state.gov/u-s-states-and-the-china-competition/?fbclid=IwAR2u4DfWT4EKcMIhdDxSexhxFw9w4wJ-k5evymo8FHeOps1yh2U9OzisfGw

    I was being invited to the U.S.-China Governors’ Collaboration Summit.

    It was an event co-hosted by the National Governors Association and something called the Chinese People’s Association For Friendship and Foreign Countries. Sounds pretty harmless.

    What the invitation did not say is that the group – the group I just mentioned – is the public face of the Chinese Communist Party’s official foreign influence agency, the United Front Work Department.

    Now, I was lucky. I was familiar with that organization from my time as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    But it got me thinking.

    How many of you made the link between that group and Chinese Communist Party officials?

    What if you made a new friend while you were at that event?

    What if your new friend asked you for introductions to other politically connected and powerful people?

    What if your new friend offered to invest big money in your state, perhaps in your pension, in industries sensitive to our national security?

    These aren’t hypotheticals. These scenarios are all too true, and they impact American foreign policy significantly.

    Indeed, last year, a Chinese Government-backed think tank in Beijing produced a report that assessed all 50 of America’s governors on their attitudes towards China. They labeled each of you “friendly,” “hardline,” or “ambiguous.”

    I suspect Trump and Pompeo have that list.

    • #9
    • April 12, 2020, at 12:20 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  10. Stad Thatcher

    Bucknelldad: While the United States lives by international trade rules and should NOT automatically terminate trade in Chinese ingredients and products, it is now in our national, if not our personal interest to know that they originate from a truly Evil Empire that means us harm, or worse.

    I think we should terminate all trade with China and any other communist or socialist country. All it does is prop up their governments, which would ultimately collapse if we just let them. If we must use cheap labor, we should do business with real democracies that aren’t trying to destroy us.

    • #10
    • April 12, 2020, at 12:30 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Headedwest Coolidge

    At the time of the pet food contamination issue, I attended a seminar with a visitor to our department who opened my eyes to Chinese food and medicine products. Even if a food product is labeled with a country of origin, it may not have originated in that country. So if a Chinese product is shipped to Argentina, and then re-shipped to the US, it may sport a label indicating the source is Argentina. [I do not know if this is legal, but it is certainly done.]

    Here is an article on “honey laundering“, which is rampant. If you don’t want to eat fake or contaminated honey, the safest thing to do is to buy it from a local beekeeper. [Note: that article is from 2013, but you can pull up many articles. Fake honey from China is an ongoing problem.]

    • #11
    • April 12, 2020, at 12:47 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  12. Skyler Coolidge

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    At the time of the pet food contamination issue, I attended a seminar with a visitor to our department who opened my eyes to Chinese food and medicine products. Even if a food product is labeled with a country of origin, it may not have originated in that country. So if a Chinese product is shipped to Argentina, and then re-shipped to the US, it may sport a label indicating the source is Argentina. [I do not know if this is legal, but it is certainly done.]

    Here is an article on “honey laundering“, which is rampant. If you don’t want to eat fake or contaminated honey, the safest thing to do is to buy it from a local beekeeper.

    At Dell we used to make laptops in Malaysia, fly them overnight to Nashville, where they would be moved from boxes containing multiple laptops into the more normal consumer box, and they would add the SPAM (speakers, Power Supply, A—? (I forget what “A” stood for), mouse and keyboard and declare that the laptop was manufactured in the US.

    • #12
    • April 12, 2020, at 1:17 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Ray Kujawa Coolidge

    Ray Kujawa (View Comment):

    I purchased some consumer electronics earlier this year and noticed it was made in Taiwan. I was a little surprised that China’s influence does not prevent such labeling. Obviously products for consumers are made in Taiwan and they can be labeled as such.

    This us the product I was thinking of. Electronic thermometer labeled “made in China.” The manufacturer is showing located in Tainan City, Taiwan. (Yes, it is legible in the 2.1 MB photograph. I had to use my iPhone to read it.)

    • #13
    • April 12, 2020, at 1:22 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. davenr321 Coolidge

    Just on a whim, and because I was waiting on a prescription at Walgreens, I started checking-out food labels on the food they sold. Not the chips or snacks, but jam, jelly, fruit spreads – it all came from China. That was something like 6 years ago. I thought it was weird. The dollar stores have the same problem but… it’s more. Their frozen foods, like burritos, peas, corn, etc. all were made in China. I found that the dollar stores do carry US products (hot sauce, pickles, other stuff) that I’d buy no problem, but that $1 burrito – no way. I want food to come from the US (when I’m in the US, which usually all the time) unless there’s a reason for something exotic or it just makes sense that certain foods are imported from countries it should be, like sardines from Norway or Bell peppers from Mexico or dates from Tunisia. Likewise, pet food – way too much comes from China. I avoid any “hide” product for the dog because it could be human hide, or anything. Besides, I think that pet food ought to come from the US.

    I do, however, buy tools/equipment from Harbor Freight or Northern Tool. If they’re good enough to be warranted for two years (or even lifetime), and I research the reviews and go check the quality myself, no problem if they’re made in China. I can get quite a nice band saw for under $300 from HF vs. paying a grand for a Grizzly (I think they’re made in the USA – just checked, they’re not. Northfield is the US-based company and their bandsaws are north of ten grand!)

    That Wuhan special is going to last a lot longer than the bat-flavored cat treats.

    • #14
    • April 12, 2020, at 3:58 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  15. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Made in China vs Assembled in China?

     

    • #15
    • April 12, 2020, at 4:35 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. Sisyphus Coolidge
    Sisyphus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Made in China vs Assembled in China?

     

    Why choose?

    • #16
    • April 13, 2020, at 1:40 AM PDT
    • Like
  17. kedavis Member

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    China Free, avoids a whole swamp of complications.

    COI (country of origin) labeling is required to import items into the US. If the tag reads “made in China”, you can be confident the importer “declared” it as such. The rules get Byzantine when the end product is a combination of items originally manufactured in more than one nation. “Domestic content” rules make fine, often unintelligible distinctions.

    Don’t give them any wiggle room. China Free.

    What do you do if “components” or “ingredients” came from India or whatever, but India or whatever got them from China?

    • #17
    • April 13, 2020, at 2:31 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. Steve C. Member

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    China Free, avoids a whole swamp of complications.

    COI (country of origin) labeling is required to import items into the US. If the tag reads “made in China”, you can be confident the importer “declared” it as such. The rules get Byzantine when the end product is a combination of items originally manufactured in more than one nation. “Domestic content” rules make fine, often unintelligible distinctions.

    Don’t give them any wiggle room. China Free.

    What do you do if “components” or “ingredients” came from India or whatever, but India or whatever got them from China?

    Then it’s not China Free.

    • #18
    • April 13, 2020, at 6:12 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This is complicated. Besides problems with labeling goods with multiple sources, there is the economic cost. Some goods can be made in America for a cost similar to Chinese-made goods, but economists estimate that saving one $50k job costs $150k to the American economy, so I think we need to buy from friendly democracies like India and others whenever possible to keep costs down.

    Furthermore, critical medical or defense goods must be largely U.S.-sourced. Dependence on a self-styled adversary for such necessities is suicidal.

    • #19
    • April 13, 2020, at 5:59 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  20. kedavis Member

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    China Free, avoids a whole swamp of complications.

    COI (country of origin) labeling is required to import items into the US. If the tag reads “made in China”, you can be confident the importer “declared” it as such. The rules get Byzantine when the end product is a combination of items originally manufactured in more than one nation. “Domestic content” rules make fine, often unintelligible distinctions.

    Don’t give them any wiggle room. China Free.

    What do you do if “components” or “ingredients” came from India or whatever, but India or whatever got them from China?

    Then it’s not China Free.

    Okay but How do you prove that? Whoever is marketing it to the US from India or whatever, will have no incentive to be honest about where THEY got it from, if they know that admitting the truth means No Sale.

    • #20
    • April 13, 2020, at 7:10 PM PDT
    • Like
  21. Skyler Coolidge

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    China Free, avoids a whole swamp of complications.

    COI (country of origin) labeling is required to import items into the US. If the tag reads “made in China”, you can be confident the importer “declared” it as such. The rules get Byzantine when the end product is a combination of items originally manufactured in more than one nation. “Domestic content” rules make fine, often unintelligible distinctions.

    Don’t give them any wiggle room. China Free.

    What do you do if “components” or “ingredients” came from India or whatever, but India or whatever got them from China?

    Then it’s not China Free.

    Okay but How do you prove that? Whoever is marketing it to the US from India or whatever, will have no incentive to be honest about where THEY got it from, if they know that admitting the truth means No Sale.

    Being made in China, whether the final assembly or the component parts or ingredients, is only a small part of the problem. The real problem is stuff is not being made here. If it were US factories making N95 masks, we could ramp up production really fast. Our nation would be saved and frankly so would everyone else. Now, we might design them here, but we don’t have the ability to make them here. (I know nothing about masks, I’m making a hypothetical.) We are at the mercy of whatever country makes them, whether they are friend or foe, competent or incompetent.

    • #21
    • April 13, 2020, at 8:38 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. kedavis Member

    Skyler (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    China Free, avoids a whole swamp of complications.

    COI (country of origin) labeling is required to import items into the US. If the tag reads “made in China”, you can be confident the importer “declared” it as such. The rules get Byzantine when the end product is a combination of items originally manufactured in more than one nation. “Domestic content” rules make fine, often unintelligible distinctions.

    Don’t give them any wiggle room. China Free.

    What do you do if “components” or “ingredients” came from India or whatever, but India or whatever got them from China?

    Then it’s not China Free.

    Okay but How do you prove that? Whoever is marketing it to the US from India or whatever, will have no incentive to be honest about where THEY got it from, if they know that admitting the truth means No Sale.

    Being made in China, whether the final assembly or the component parts or ingredients, is only a small part of the problem. The real problem is stuff is not being made here. If it were US factories making N95 masks, we could ramp up production really fast. Our nation would be saved and frankly so would everyone else. Now, we might design them here, but we don’t have the ability to make them here. (I know nothing about masks, I’m making a hypothetical.) We are at the mercy of whatever country makes them, whether they are friend or foe, competent or incompetent.

    If the fabric etc still comes from China – or from India, and India gets it from China – then you still can’t just crank up production, if you can’t get the foreign-sourced materials.

    • #22
    • April 14, 2020, at 11:28 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. Headedwest Coolidge

     

    Vietnam Accuses China of Deceptive Labeling

    Vietnamese officials say China is intentionally mislabeling its products as “made in Vietnam” to avoid American tariffs, and have ordered offices to more aggressively examine products’ certificates of origin.

    Chinese firms first export products to Vietnam, then change the labeling on packages before exporting the goods to the United States, Japan or Europe, they said.

    “Dozens” of products have been identified, Hoang Thi Thuy, a Vietnamese Customs Department official, told state-run media, and goods like textiles, fishery products, agricultural products, steel, aluminum, and processed wooden products were most vulnerable to the fraud.

    • #23
    • April 19, 2020, at 10:37 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. kedavis Member

    Headedwest (View Comment):

     

    Vietnam Accuses China of Deceptive Labeling

    Vietnamese officials say China is intentionally mislabeling its products as “made in Vietnam” to avoid American tariffs, and have ordered offices to more aggressively examine products’ certificates of origin.

    Chinese firms first export products to Vietnam, then change the labeling on packages before exporting the goods to the United States, Japan or Europe, they said.

    “Dozens” of products have been identified, Hoang Thi Thuy, a Vietnamese Customs Department official, told state-run media, and goods like textiles, fishery products, agricultural products, steel, aluminum, and processed wooden products were most vulnerable to the fraud.

    I can just see all the anti-regulation folks clamoring for stuff not made in China, then clamoring AGAINST any REGULATION to make sure that actually happens.

    • #24
    • April 21, 2020, at 6:35 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Again I ask: what does “made in China” even mean? What if the product is assembled in the US of parts that come from China? Is that “made in China”? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in China, of subcontinents made in China? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in Europe, of parts assembled all of the world, some of which have raw materials manufactured in China?

    Are you going to demand a manufacturing BOM to be attached to every product, identify which assemblies, sub-components, raw materials are made in the US? I mean look, I worked for 15 years in aeropsace manufacturing, where serial and lot traceability and country of origin are critical. Do you want all of that? You gonna review all of that before you buy whatever it is you are gonna buy?

    • #25
    • April 27, 2020, at 2:38 PM PDT
    • Like
  26. Skyler Coolidge

    Spin (View Comment):

    Again I ask: what does “made in China” even mean? What if the product is assembled in the US of parts that come from China? Is that “made in China”? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in China, of subcontinents made in China? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in Europe, of parts assembled all of the world, some of which have raw materials manufactured in China?

    Are you going to demand a manufacturing BOM to be attached to every product, identify which assemblies, sub-components, raw materials are made in the US? I mean look, I worked for 15 years in aeropsace manufacturing, where serial and lot traceability and country of origin are critical. Do you want all of that? You gonna review all of that before you buy whatever it is you are gonna buy?

    The point is that the environment for manufacturing here has to improve or it won’t matter. Manufacturing will go to where it is economically better and if we outlaw it, it will still happen through the black market or else we won’t have products.

    • #26
    • April 27, 2020, at 3:55 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Again I ask: what does “made in China” even mean? What if the product is assembled in the US of parts that come from China? Is that “made in China”? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in China, of subcontinents made in China? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in Europe, of parts assembled all of the world, some of which have raw materials manufactured in China?

    Are you going to demand a manufacturing BOM to be attached to every product, identify which assemblies, sub-components, raw materials are made in the US? I mean look, I worked for 15 years in aeropsace manufacturing, where serial and lot traceability and country of origin are critical. Do you want all of that? You gonna review all of that before you buy whatever it is you are gonna buy?

    The point is that the environment for manufacturing here has to improve or it won’t matter. Manufacturing will go to where it is economically better and if we outlaw it, it will still happen through the black market or else we won’t have products.

    That’s what I told you on another thread!

    Don’t ask manufacturers to label stuff “made in America”. Don’t add more regulation in an environment where regulation is exactly what is causing the problem you want to solve. Push government to create the regulatory and tax environment that allows businesses to do as much as possible inside the United States!

    • #27
    • April 27, 2020, at 3:59 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Headedwest Coolidge

    Spin (View Comment):

    Again I ask: what does “made in China” even mean? What if the product is assembled in the US of parts that come from China? Is that “made in China”? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in China, of subcontinents made in China? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in Europe, of parts assembled all of the world, some of which have raw materials manufactured in China?

    Are you going to demand a manufacturing BOM to be attached to every product, identify which assemblies, sub-components, raw materials are made in the US? I mean look, I worked for 15 years in aeropsace manufacturing, where serial and lot traceability and country of origin are critical. Do you want all of that? You gonna review all of that before you buy whatever it is you are gonna buy?

    I know how BOMs work and I’d like to do that for, say, medicine.

    • #28
    • April 27, 2020, at 7:31 PM PDT
    • Like
  29. Sisyphus Coolidge
    Sisyphus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Spin (View Comment):

    Again I ask: what does “made in China” even mean? What if the product is assembled in the US of parts that come from China? Is that “made in China”? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in China, of subcontinents made in China? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in Europe, of parts assembled all of the world, some of which have raw materials manufactured in China?

    Are you going to demand a manufacturing BOM to be attached to every product, identify which assemblies, sub-components, raw materials are made in the US? I mean look, I worked for 15 years in aeropsace manufacturing, where serial and lot traceability and country of origin are critical. Do you want all of that? You gonna review all of that before you buy whatever it is you are gonna buy?

    Put the filings on the web and let the market sort it out.

    • #29
    • April 27, 2020, at 10:27 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  30. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Again I ask: what does “made in China” even mean? What if the product is assembled in the US of parts that come from China? Is that “made in China”? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in China, of subcontinents made in China? What if it is assembled in the US, of parts assembled in Europe, of parts assembled all of the world, some of which have raw materials manufactured in China?

    Are you going to demand a manufacturing BOM to be attached to every product, identify which assemblies, sub-components, raw materials are made in the US? I mean look, I worked for 15 years in aeropsace manufacturing, where serial and lot traceability and country of origin are critical. Do you want all of that? You gonna review all of that before you buy whatever it is you are gonna buy?

    Put the filings on the web and let the market sort it out.

    You want manufacturers to post their bills of material online?

    • #30
    • April 28, 2020, at 6:10 AM PDT
    • Like