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HQ 732988

May 30, 1990

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 732988 NL


Peter B. Helfrich
PBH International
P.O. Box 942
Bellvue, WA 98009

RE: Country of Origin Marking of Frozen Pack Meals

Dear Mr. Helfrich:

This is in response to your letter of December 12, 1989, in which you inquire about the country of origin marking requirements applicable to frozen pack meals which are sold to, and served by, air lines, hotels and hospitals.

Your client, International Frozen Food Services, sells a variety of individual meals consisting of sandwiches, prepared meats, fruits, vegetables, condiments and utensils. You state that the sources of each constituent material may originate in various countries depending upon international market factors. You also indicate that the country in which the meals will be assembled may vary according to market requirements.

Because we have not been provided with specific information as to the countries of origin or the condition in which the articles are imported, we are unable to issue a binding ruling concerning the country of origin of the frozen meals. Were Customs to be presented with a formal request for a ruling, our determination would be guided by the following general considerations.

Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), requires that, unless excepted every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. shall be marked so as to indicate the English name of its country of origin to an ultimate purchaser in the U.S. Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134) provides that for country of origin marking purposes the ultimate purchaser is generally the last person in the U.S. to receive the article in the form in which it was imported.

It would likely be our determination that the ultimate purchaser of the frozen food meals is the airline, hotel or hospital which purchases them, and that the country of origin of the meals is the country in which they are assembled and wrapped. It would not be necessary to mark each individual meal, but
rather, if meals were shipped to the ultimate purchaser in bulk, that the outermost container in which they were imported be marked with the country of origin.

As for the individual constituents of each meal, it would likely be our determination that the ultimate purchaser of the bread, fruit, vegetables, etc. is the entity which assembles the meals. We would probably regard these materials as having been substantially transformed, within the meaning of 19 CFR 134.1(d)(1), into a new and different article, i.e., the frozen meal. There would, therefore, be no obligation on the part of the assembler of the meal to indicate to its customers the countries of origin of the foods, condiments and utensils. The assembler would only be required, as stated above, to assure that the meals themselves are marked with their country of origin at the time of importation and until they reach their ultimate purchasers.

This information is provided for guidance only, and does not constitute a binding Customs Service ruling. If you have any questions concerning this matter, they may be directed to this office.


Marvin M. Amernick
Chief, Value, Special Programs

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