Where is This from Anyways?

Photo by Marta Branco on Pexels.com

“Made in …” or “Product of …” these declarations are quite common on everyday products. This requirement is from the Tariff Act of 1930, which requires “every article of foreign origin (or its container …) … imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit in such manner as to indicated to an ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article.” 19 U.S.C. 1304(a).

Spices are aromatic vegetables added to foods to season and flavor them. Most often these essential ingredients come from places other than the United States. For example, cinnamon comes from Indonesia and Vietnam, among other locations; black pepper is grown in India and Vietnam; and vanilla is from Mexico and Madagascar. However, take a spice container off the store shelf and you’ll rarely see a declaration for the black pepper, “product of India.”

Isn't all cinnamon just cinnamon? Not quite; there are different types of trees, which are specific to different areas. Thus by specifying the location (Ceylon vs Vietnam, for example), the consumer will better know the flavor). Read more.
Isn’t all cinnamon just cinnamon? Not quite; there are different types of trees, which are specific to different areas. Thus by specifying the location (Ceylon vs Vietnam, for example), the consumer will better know the flavor). Read more.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What gives?

Simply put: an exemption. Under the law, many spices do not have to include a country of origin marking. 19 U.S.C. 1304(g). Spices are not the only product exempted from this requirement; there’s also tea and coffee. 19 U.S.C. 1304(f).

Now that does not mean you won’t see spices, tea, or coffee that tell you where they are from: Ceylon cinnamon or Vietnamese cinnamon. A label can always voluntarily declare the location where the product came from. Such a claim must be truthful, not misleading, and adequately substantiated – this requirement comes from the Federal Trade Commission Act, but that’s for another day …

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