King’s Hawaiian the best thing to come out of Hawaii other than getting drunk and embarrassing your family at a tiki bar. The company has been in the news recently over a a rather unusual court case that has been filed against it. A man in New York has filed a class action against bread maker alleging that the company misled him into believing that the rolls are actually made in Hawaii. Robert Galinsky is pursuing a class-action lawsuit against the company claiming unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud. Which if he’s correct is fair enough, if a company claims to have some quality of origin but actually doesn’t then, that’s false advertising and there should be repercussions for those actions.
But just like when you are found by your family passed out in the bushes behind the tiki bar that you were kicked out of the night before, the real story is much more complicated thatn that. You see, King’s Hawaiian did originally start in Hawaii in the 50’s but eventually switched to California in the 70s when production capabilities outgrew Hawaii. Which King’s Hawaiian say they have been pretty clear about. They have even put it on their packaging. And there is a good reason for that. Although some states, such as California and Hawaii have considered a 'Made in Hawaii/California' labelling protocol, these laws have never progressed from the drafting stage.
For food products, Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930 is the most protection that requires that most food products must bear a country-of-origin label on their packaging. However, it does not extend to individual states of the USA. This section was recently enforced in the case of Federal Trade Commission v Bollman Hat Company, where a company was labelling their hats with labels such as 'Choose American' and 'Made in the USA since 1868' even though up to 70% of their products were imported from other countries
So country of origin labels are a good thing, that allow consumers to properly identify the where the products they buy come from. But there is still a long way to go with them. because that little tag on the inside of your shirt or on the back of your bottle of milk isn’t always able to convey the complexities of that answer. Just last year the USDA admitted that ‘Product of USA’ tags were at best ‘misleading to consumers’ drawing from one example where imported cattle that were slaughtered in America were labelled as product of USA. Which is the equivalent of saying that you were invited to a family dinner when you just passed out in the hedges next door.
Not long after Obama was first elected in 2008, mandatory COOL, which would make producers list every country that all food was brought in by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By 2015 it was struck down by the WTO, with Mexico and Canada successfully arguing the policy put cattle and pig producers in those countries at a disadvantage. Australia faced similar pressure last year when it considered adopting an approach which would make all products require a Country of Origin tag.