A coworker was recently complaining to me that there are restrictions on types of steel American companies can call "Stainless Steel" when marketing products (for example, outdoor grills) and that Chinese companies are exempt from these restrictions.

Are there any specific regulations regarding stainless steel in product marketing and how might a company be exempt from these restrictions?

  • I understand this potentially a vague question. Because this is firmly outside my area of expertise and in lieu of definitive answers I would also appreciate a point in the right direction towards good resources for researching this type of question.
    – shuntress
    Feb 24, 2017 at 20:25

1 Answer 1



Stainless steel is a classification of steel containing at least 10.5% chromium by mass, you cannot legally market something as stainless steel if it is, for example, mild steel, plastic or wood.

However, within that classification there are an enormous number of different grades, each suitable for different applications. For example, 304 stainless is suitable for building products but will rapidly corrode if used near the sea: coastal areas need 316 stainless.

Your friend may be complaining that Chinese manufacturers use a grade of stainless in applications where American companies and consumers would expect a different type. This may also be illegal if the actual type used were not specified. Notwithstanding, the goods themselves may be illegal as not "fit for purpose".

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