FTC calls Pyrex maker on the carpet for “Made in America” claims

Photo (c) Zen Rial - Getty Images

Manufacturer will be fined, but will consumers receive compensation?

When does “Made in America” really mean “Made in China?" 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wanted to know the answer and has taken action against Instant Brands, manufacturer of Pyrex-brand glass measuring cups, for claims that those items were made in the United States during a time that the company was importing some measuring cups from China.

The FTC’s proposed order against Instant Brands would stop the company from making deceptive claims about products being “Made in USA” and require it to pay a monetary judgment.

“Consumers rely on marketers to make truthful ‘Made in USA’ claims,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  “If marketers move their manufacturing outside the United States, even temporarily, they must update their advertising to make it accurate.”

Covid made ‘em do it

When Covid hit our shores and people took a shine to baking at home, Instant Brands was put in a difficult position. Either it had to live with its production capabilities here in the States or it had to go elsewhere to have things produced.

The FTC said that by early 2021, the company decided it could not meet the demand for certain measuring cup sets sold on Amazon with cups produced in the United States, so from March 2021 to May 2022, it allegedly cut a deal to have some Pyrex cups made in China.

Not that the move to an off-shore producer was a sin. The gaffe was that the company marketed the Chinese-made products on Amazon as “Made in USA,” despite the cups themselves being marked “Made in China” and 110,000 units being sold as being USA-made.

“While the Chinese cups were being sold the company also continued its marketing that implied all Pyrex cups were of U.S. origin, with claims about the company’s ‘made in the USA heritage,’ and that its products were ‘American as Apple Pie,’” the FTC said.

This shouldn’t happen again, but consumers can’t expect money back

The FTC has placed a restriction on the company, prohibiting it from making unqualified U.S.-origin claims for any product going forward, unless it can show that the product’s final assembly or processing happens in the U.S., and that all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the U.S.

The order also requires Instant Brands to pay a $129,416 judgment. But will consumers who believed they were buying American-made products when they didn’t get any recompensation for the Pyrex mistake?

That’s unknown. ConsumerAffairs reached out to Instant Brands and asked that very question, but there was no immediate response. 

You can't be too careful

Despite the FTC's efforts, consumers can't be too careful when it comes to "Made in USA" claims. Not even Google or Bing or Safari has found a way to cull those out.

"I did a search recently for Pyrex made in the USA and just trusted the information in the search results," Mary S. recently commented on the FTC's site regarding the Pyrex situation. "Did not buy anything and glad now that I didn’t. Did not see any disclaimers anywhere about being made in China as an option."

When ConsumerAffairs searched for "Made in USA" products on Amazon, there were more than 100,000 results. We didn't dig into each and every one of those to verify the claims, but this might be another can of worms that Amazon will have to work through just like it did with the OTC hearing aids issue ConsumerAffairs uncovered and the company quickly and proactively responded to.

Still, we may have found one solution in the interim. Asking the "Made in USA" question in the "Looking for specific info" section of a product's listing could help those intent on buying only American-made products. At least it did when we investigated the Pyrex measuring cups listing.

Using that tool can produce some very clarifying answers -- including one from Instant Products directly.

"Where are these made? some reviews say that they are no longer made in the USA, and are now made in china," one interested consumer asked.

"Thank you for your question! This Pyrex measuring cup set is manufactured and designed by our world-class teams in China, the United States and Canada, meeting or exceeding all North American safety and regulatory standards," someone from the Instant Brands support team wrote in response. 

"We can assure you that every piece of Pyrex glass, regardless of where it is produced, meets the same strict quality standards that our consumers have trusted for over 100 years."

Take a Home Warranty Quiz. Get matched with an Authorized Partner.