Kitchen appliance manufacturer Instant Brands has been fined by the Federal Trade Commission after agreeing that it had deceptively misled consumers about the origin of its products during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pyrex, a subsidiary of Instant Brands and a borosilicate glass maker famous in both kitchen and laboratory applications, is alleged to have misidentified over 100,000 units of glass measuring cups as “Made in USA” and has been ordered to pay just under $130,000 in fines.
The “Made in USA” standard is governed by the Federal Trade Commission’s general authority to combat deceptive trade practices, while markings that indicate a product was developed overseas fall under the purview of the U.S. Customs Service.
“Consumers rely on marketers to make truthful ‘Made in USA’ claims,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC. “If marketers move their manufacturing outside the United States, even temporarily, they must update their advertising to make it accurate.”
According to the FTC, Instant Brands began importing Pyrex cups from China during the COVID-19 pandemic as demand pressure grew from the then-cloistered American population, many of whom turned to domestic hobbies like baking to fill their time.
Buckling under this increased demand and restricted domestic supply, Instant Brands began importing their measuring cups from China. On Amazon, however, the business continued to list the products as “Made in USA” despite the physical products being embossed with the words “made in China.”
Moreso, Instant Brands continued its regular Pyrex marketing campaigns, boasting of their “USA heritage” and telling prospective costumers that its products were “American as Apple Pie.”
In addition to paying a fine for the 110,000 units that were deceptively marketed, the FTC has notified the company that it must strictly adhere to the guidelines and will not be allowed to make unqualified claims about any of their products without fully substantiating the claim to the FTC.