TUESDAY, 12 APRIL 2011 05:09 BY THERESE HART | VARIETY NEWS STAFF
AFTER yesterday’s roundtable discussion regarding the deficiencies in the Guam Product Seal Law, Senator Judi Guthertz is expected to introduce legislation today which will fix the most obvious loophole that allows off-island products to use “Guam” in their packaging.
Some distributors who bring in off-island products using the name “Guam,” but clearly displaying the manufacturing origin, will no longer be able to take advantage of this loophole.
Guthertz’s bill is expected to give these distributors the opportunity to sell off their products in the local markets given their products’ shelf life. But afterwards, they will no longer be able to bring these products into Guam’s port of entry.
Guthertz said that section in the law will be amended in her bill. The senator said there are other issues that need to be addressed with the Attorney General’s Office.
The Guam Product Seal Law has two provisions, which state it is unlawful for any business establishment to state or imply in an advertisement display of any type, including packaging, that a manufactured product is made on Guam if the product does not have a Guam product seal on it; and that it is unlawful for any business establishment to sell a product that has the words “Guam” or “Chamorro” or a derivation of such words on the product, as such product was not manufactured on Guam, unless the place where the product was manufactured is clearly labeled on the product.
“That last statement is one of the technical issues which creates some of the problems right now,” said Guthertz.
James Bonanno, owner of Island Manufacturing & Wholesale which distributes locally manufactured products, said even with the current law, the labeling requirement is not being enforced.
Representatives from Customs and Quarantine said when they come across off-island products that have “Guam” on its packaging, these products pass Customs because the packaging clearly states its manufacturing origin.
Guthertz’s bill, if enacted into law, would disallow copycat products that mislead visitors and the general public into believing the products that are offered to them are actually made in Guam.
Denise Selk, who manufactures Coco Joe’s cookies, shared that customers may be thinking, “Are these made in Guam and packaged in China?” Selk also said a company that brings in off-island cookies manufactured in China has been copying her company’s packaging and flavors of cookies, which is not right.
Selk and other local manufacturers would like a resolution to the problems and hopes that closing the loopholes will provide the incentive for new entrepreneurs to produce locally-made products, proudly and legally displaying the Guam Product Seal.