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. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Spin (View Comment):

    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?

    What a disaster that would be.  It would be the stupid MSDS times a thousand. 

    • #31
  2. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    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?

    What a disaster that would be. It would be the stupid MSDS times a thousand.

    I hadn’t thought about that angle, but yeah.  Because how can you provide a BOM without also providing reference to the MSDS?  So the consumer is going to go and buy something from Amazon, and there’s a link to the BOM, and he or she gets to wade through that to find out what percentage of the thing is “made in America”?  I don’t think that’s realistic.  It’s a bunch of regulatory burden for the manufacturer (and presumably the retailer) which serves no real purpose.

    • #32
  3. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Spin (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    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?

    What a disaster that would be. It would be the stupid MSDS times a thousand.

    I hadn’t thought about that angle, but yeah. Because how can you provide a BOM without also providing reference to the MSDS? So the consumer is going to go and buy something from Amazon, and there’s a link to the BOM, and he or she gets to wade through that to find out what percentage of the thing is “made in America”? I don’t think that’s realistic. It’s a bunch of regulatory burden for the manufacturer (and presumably the retailer) which serves no real purpose.

    And can you imagine how hard it would be to keep that up-to-date?  

    • #33
  4. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    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?

    What a disaster that would be. It would be the stupid MSDS times a thousand.

    I hadn’t thought about that angle, but yeah. Because how can you provide a BOM without also providing reference to the MSDS? So the consumer is going to go and buy something from Amazon, and there’s a link to the BOM, and he or she gets to wade through that to find out what percentage of the thing is “made in America”? I don’t think that’s realistic. It’s a bunch of regulatory burden for the manufacturer (and presumably the retailer) which serves no real purpose.

    And can you imagine how hard it would be to keep that up-to-date?

    It wouldn’t be too hard, honestly.  We have automated systems for doing just that.  We have our EBOM, and MBOM, our PBOM, now we’d just have some sort of sanitized “public BOM” that would get updated and pushed automatically to some portal.  

    The problem will be knowing which BOM you are buying.  Say you are buying the most recent GE microwave.  Model SD1020EZ (I made that up) might have several iterations based on this or that.  The availability of a certain board, the color, who made the glass tray.  So which BOM applies?  Well you need to sub-model.  How do you, the consumer, know?  

    • #34
  5. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Spin (View Comment):

    It wouldn’t be too hard, honestly. We have automated systems for doing just that. We have our EBOM, and MBOM, our PBOM, now we’d just have some sort of sanitized “public BOM” that would get updated and pushed automatically to some portal.

    The problem will be knowing which BOM you are buying. Say you are buying the most recent GE microwave. Model SD1020EZ (I made that up) might have several iterations based on this or that. The availability of a certain board, the color, who made the glass tray. So which BOM applies? Well you need to sub-model. How do you, the consumer, know?

    And what is the liability if your BOM is out of date or otherwise in error?  And how helpful is it to your competitors  to know your BOM?  And waht about small businesses that don’t have such automated systems; this would be just another method of deterring small businesses in favor of larger ones.

    • #35
  6. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    It wouldn’t be too hard, honestly. We have automated systems for doing just that. We have our EBOM, and MBOM, our PBOM, now we’d just have some sort of sanitized “public BOM” that would get updated and pushed automatically to some portal.

    The problem will be knowing which BOM you are buying. Say you are buying the most recent GE microwave. Model SD1020EZ (I made that up) might have several iterations based on this or that. The availability of a certain board, the color, who made the glass tray. So which BOM applies? Well you need to sub-model. How do you, the consumer, know?

    And what is the liability if your BOM is out of date or otherwise in error? And how helpful is it to your competitors to know your BOM? And waht about small businesses that don’t have such automated systems; this would be just another method of deterring small businesses in favor of larger ones.

    Exactly.

    • #36
  7. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    It wouldn’t be too hard, honestly. We have automated systems for doing just that. We have our EBOM, and MBOM, our PBOM, now we’d just have some sort of sanitized “public BOM” that would get updated and pushed automatically to some portal.

    The problem will be knowing which BOM you are buying. Say you are buying the most recent GE microwave. Model SD1020EZ (I made that up) might have several iterations based on this or that. The availability of a certain board, the color, who made the glass tray. So which BOM applies? Well you need to sub-model. How do you, the consumer, know?

    And what is the liability if your BOM is out of date or otherwise in error? And how helpful is it to your competitors to know your BOM? And waht about small businesses that don’t have such automated systems; this would be just another method of deterring small businesses in favor of larger ones.

    At the technology company I worked for we tried to have multiple suppliers for components, all of which might be sitting next to one another in the supply warehouse.So whether a component installed on a particular machine came from China or from Korea or from Japan might depend on which box of components the assembly worker pulled out of the supply warehouse that day. And it might change during the day if he used up that box and went back to the warehouse to get another box of components.

    A partial analogy: The US federal patent law (inventions) provides certain financial benefits to a patent owner when the patent owner sues an infringer of the patent (the infringer copied the patented technology) if the patent owner marks its product with the patent number. So I (company patent lawyer) was often under pressure to list on the product the patents that covered the product. But many of our products were complex and contained as many as 300 – 400 patented inventions. Minor in-line modifications or updates to the product might change which patents were included. And the same law that provided for the financial benefits specified a large penalty if there was a mistake in the listing of patents. Keeping the list of patents up-to-date and accurate was near impossible, had a high likelihood of mistake, and so we chose not to do so. I therefore can imagine similar difficulties trying to keep a list of countries of origin up to date and accurate.

    Though in principle, I like the idea of knowing whether the product or components or ingredients come from a country that I shouldn’t trust for accuracy and honesty, like China.

    • #37
  8. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Skyler (View Comment):
    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. 

    I don’t see the logical conflict there. I still think only our enemies could devise such a plan.

    • #38
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