Patriotic-minded shoppers seeking American-made merchandise for their Fourth of July celebrations are scrutinizing labels after watchdog group Truth in Advertising accused Walmart of mislabeling foreign products as made in the U.S.A.
According to a letter sent last week to the retailer’s president and CEO, Doug McMillon, “Walmart’s website is mired in U.S.A. labeling errors.”
The note claimed it had found more than 100 items for sale on the site—including makeup applicator sponges, a dental whitening system and liquid eyeliner—that were made overseas but which carried “Made in U.S.A.” labels. Furthermore, the group criticized the retail giant for not clearly distinguishing between U.S.-made and U.S.-assembled goods.
“In short, Walmart’s use of its U.S.A. labels and specifications is false and deceptive and therefore in violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) standards for making U.S.-origin claims,” the letter stated.
These allegations contradict the retailer’s high-profile pledge, announced in January 2013, to invest $250 billion over 10 years in domestically produced goods that support American jobs.
Following an internal investigation, a Walmart spokesperson said, “We believe these errors are limited to a small percentage of items and we are confident in the overall integrity of the information on our site.” However, due to a search-engine glitch, the retailer is pulling its “Made in the U.S.A.” tags from the site, along with labels touting women-owned businesses and sustainability.
“We added badges to products on our site to help customers find what they were looking for,” the spokesperson said. “Unfortunately, some Internet search engines won’t return an item with a badge in search results. We are working on a fix.”