Feds End Probe of Walmart on 'Made in USA' Logo

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By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Trade Commission, which enforces U.S. laws against deceptive ads, said Tuesday that it had closed a probe of Walmart Stores (WMT) after the company addressed the problem of products advertised as "Made in USA" when they weren't.

The FTC closed the probe without action after Walmart dropped all "Made in USA" logos from products on its website, the FTC said in a letter to the company that was posted on the agency's website.

Walmart has since redesigned its "Made in USA" logos for some products to better indicate how much of the product was made domestically and how much was made overseas, the FTC noted in its letter.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-Based on your actions and other factors, the staff has decided not to pursue this investigation any further.%"Based on your actions and other factors, the staff has decided not to pursue this investigation any further," FTC staff attorney Julia Solomon Ensor wrote in the letter.

The problem arose as Walmart sought to fulfill a pledge made in 2013 to buy an extra $250 billion in U.S.-made goods over a decade to support U.S. manufacturing jobs. The world's largest retailer by revenue has faced criticism by unions and others that its low-cost business model was a big factor in pushing manufacturing jobs offshore.

The watchdog group Truth in Advertising found 100 instances of mislabeled products in June and raised them with the company. They found another 100 in July and took the information to the FTC, said legal director Laura Smith.

"In light of the company's steps to address the issues, we're not surprised that the investigation has been closed," said Smith.

Walmart said it was pleased with the decision to drop the probe. "We're committed to reviewing and strengthening our processes," said spokesman Kory Lundberg.

-Nathan Layne contributed reporting.
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