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HQ 733173

October 17, 1990

MAR-2-05 CO:R:V:C 733173 RSD


Mr. P.F. Wegener
M.G. Maher & Company Inc.
442 Canal Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

RE: Country of origin marking of imported crab meat processed in the U.S.; 19 CFR 134.25, 19 CFR 134.35; 732337

Dear Mr. Wegener:

This is in response to your letters dated March 1, April 6, and May 16, 1990 requesting a ruling on the country of origin marking requirements for imported crab meat processed in the U.S. We regret the delay in responding your request.


Your client, Ecrevisse Acadienne, imports crab meat into the U.S. from plants located in various countries. The meat is packed in ice and transported to a pasteurization plant in the U.S. where it is packed in cans and pasteurized in the following manner.

The water-tight containers are opened and the meat removed and placed into sanitized steel cans. Samples are taken for microbiological testing; net weight is checked and adjusted and the cans are sealed. The crab meat is pasteurized by raising the internal temperature of each can to 185 degrees Fahrenheit for at least one minute. Each time the pasteurization operation is conducted, reports on that specific operation are written. Time and temperature are recorded and the pasteurization procedure is documented. Thermo-couplers are inserted into sample cans located in the center of the rectors and the resulting data recorded using a computer program to calculate Fahrenheit values necessary for each batch. The program integrates total heat penetration with time to determine that proper Fahrenheit values are achieved. Inspection of the can seams is made at the start of the seaming process and again twice each day per closing machine in accordance with recommended procedures for examining seams. Records are maintained on all can seam inspections. Immediately after the proper Fahrenheit value has been obtained, the cans are removed from the retort and placed into a circulating ice water bath and held there until the internal temperature of all cans is not more than 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Upon completion of the cooling process, the meat is placed in refrigeration at 34 degrees Fahrenheit and held for at least 24 hours. After obtaining a maximum internal temperature of 36 degrees Fahrenheit, the can are rapidly cased and then returned to 34 degrees Fahrenheit refrigerated storage and held pending shipment to a customer. Random samples of each size can and type of crab meat are pulled for microbiological testing. The shipping containers and cans are labeled to indicate "PASTEURIZED CRAB."

You point out that this processing adds 40% to the value of the crab meat, and that fresh crab meat at 34 degrees Fahrenheit generally becomes inedible after a 14 day period, whereas pasteurized crab meat kept at 34 degrees Fahrenheit has a shelf life of over a year.


Is imported crab meat substantially transformed by processing done in the U.S. which includes packing in cans and pasteurization?


Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article. Congressional intent in enacting 19 U.S.C. 1304 was "that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the marking on the imported goods the country of which the goods is the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will." United States v. Friedlaender & Co. 27 C.C.P.A. 297 at 302; C.A.D. 104 (1940).

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and the exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.1(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(b)), defines "country of origin" as the country of manufacture, production or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the U.S. Further work or material added to an article in another country must effect a substantial transformation in order to render such other country the "country of origin" within the meaning of the marking laws and regulations. The case of U.S. v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., Inc., 27 C.C.P.A. 267 (C.A.D. 98) (1940), provides that an article used in manufacture which results in an article having a name, character or use differing from that of the constituent article will be considered substantially transformed. Accordingly, the manufacturer or processor who converts or combines constituent materials into different articles will be considered the ultimate purchaser of the constituent materials. If the manufacturer is the ultimate purchaser, the imported article is excepted from marking (see section 134.35, Customs Regulations). If the U.S. processing does not result in substantial transformation, the consumer or other person who obtains the article after processing is the ultimate purchaser and the repacked crab meat is subject to marking pursuant to section 134.25, Customs Regulations, (19 CFR 134.25). This section requires that the importer shall certify to the district director that (1) if the importer does the repacking, the new container shall be marked to indicate the country of origin of the article or (2) if the article is intended to be sold or transferred to a subsequent purchaser or repacker, the importer shall notify such purchaser or transferee, in writing, at the time of sale or transfer, that any repacking of the article must conform to these requirements. The importer, or his authorized agent shall sign a copy of the statement found at 19 CFR 134.25.

In HQ 732337 dated August 16, 1989, (copy enclosed), Customs ruled that the processing of crab meat in the U.S. by pasteurization and packing in cans was not a substantial transformation and that the importer must follow the certification procedures of 19 CFR 134.25. The reasons for this determination are fully discussed in that ruling.

The domestic processing of the crab meat in this case (pasteurization and packing in cans) is essentially the same as the domestic processing in HQ 732337 and for the same reasons discussed therein we find that it does not result in a substantial transformation. Therefore, the consumer who obtains the crab meat after the processing is the ultimate purchaser. Accordingly, to ensure that the ultimate purchaser (the consumer) is aware of the origin, the can of pasteurized crab meat must be marked with the country of origin of the imported crab meat.


The processing of crab meat in the U.S. by pasteurization and packing it into cans is not a substantial transformation. Therefore, the importer must follow the certification procedures set forth in 19 CFR 134.25. The cans of pasteurized crab meat must be marked with the country of origin of the imported crab meat.


Marvin M. Amernick
Chief, Value, Special Programs

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