United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1993 HQ Rulings > HQ 0734548 - HQ 0734681 > HQ 0734677

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 734677

September 8, 1992

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 734677 ER


Kathleen M. Murphy, Esq.
Katten Muchin & Zavis
525 West Monroe Street
Suite 1600
Chicago, Illinois 60661-3693

RE: Country of Origin Marking for Rawhide Strips; Major Supplier Method; 19 CFR 134.25.

Dear Ms. Murphy:

This is in response to your letter of June 5, 1992, in which you request a ruling on behalf of your client, Nestle Food Company, concerning the country of origin marking for imported rawhide strips which are sourced from several foreign countries and repackaged in the U.S for sale to ultimate purchasers.


Friskies Petcare Products ("Friskies"), a division of Nestle Food Company, is a U.S. manufacturer and distributor of pet food and pet care products. This ruling request pertains to dog treats that are marketed by Friskies under the brand name "Cheweez."

Cheweez dog treats consist of rawhide or beefhide strips that are sold in two flavors, either original or beef-basted, and in two sizes for small and large dogs (i.e., 4-inch and 7-inch strips). The "original" flavored product is coated with a special seasoning, and the "beef-basted" flavored product is coated with a meat slurry.

Friskies purchases the rawhide strips from U.S. producers and foreign producers located in Mexico, Columbia, and Ecuador. Friskies occasionally makes emergency purchases from other South American countries. The smaller strips are sourced from all four countries and the larger strips are sourced from Mexico and Columbia.

The rawhide strips are imported in bulk in polystyrene bags that are marked with the country of origin of the contents. Both the domestic and imported strips are inventoried by Friskies according to size (i.e., 4-inch or 7-inch strips), irrespective of the country of origin. The quality and appearance of the strips can vary substantially in terms of product size. To achieve uniformity in quality and appearance, Friskies must commingle the product of 5 or 6 different suppliers at one time in order to achieve a consistency in product mix.

The commingling operation begins by mixing product from multiple suppliers in a holding bin. The mixed product is randomly expelled through a 2' x 2' door into the flavoring system where a revolving drum randomly dips the strips into the flavored coating and then conveys the coated product to an oven where it is dried. The dried strips are filled into a holding bin and then are randomly expelled by an automatic filling and weighing machine. Since the strips are commingled continuously throughout the processing operations, the retail boxes may contain different combinations of domestic and imported product.


What country of origin marking requirements apply to rawhide strips imported from several different countries and which are necessarily commingled subsequent to importation as a result of further processing and repackaging?


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 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. Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304.

Regarding imported articles which are combined with other articles after importation but before delivery to an ultimate purchaser, 19 CFR 134.14 requires that the marking "shall clearly show that the origin indicated is that of the imported article only and not that of any other article with which the imported article may be combined."

Customs has determined that under special circumstances, marking may be accomplished by indicating the "major supplier" sources on certain products. See, T.D. 89-66 (regarding the marking of imported fruit juice concentrate). Under this method of marking, a product is labeled on a lot-by-lot basis, identifying on the package received by the ultimate purchaser those countries accounting for 75 percent of the source of raw material in the specific lot. Also see, C.S.D. 90-42 (January 11, 1990) (major supplier marking approved for individual bags of cooked shrimp); C.S.D. 84-56, (December 12, 1983) (major source marking approved for repackaged industrial fasteners); C.S.D. 84- 44 (October 14, 1983) affirmed by C.S.D. 84-112, ((July 2, 1984) (major supplier marking approved for repackaged honey where it is shown that most imports would likely be confined to a few major suppliers); and HQ 089756 (September 27, 1991) modified by HQ 734414 (January 27, 1992) (major supplier marking approved for apple juice product;).

In considering alternative marking proposals, Customs must weigh the extent of the deviation from the statutory requirements, the degree of accuracy that is sacrificed as a result of the deviation and the extent to which the deviation will facilitate compliance with the marking statute. At the time the "major supplier" method of marking was initially approved, Customs considered the overwhelming advantage of eliminating the need for processors to have numerous labels on hand to be used when there are slight changes in their sources of supply. Customs recognized that such an advantage outweighed the certain degree of accuracy that would necessarily have to be sacrificed by listing only the processor's major sources of supply. In addition, the marking of the major foreign sources of the imported product did not, in our opinion, deviate too far from the statutory requirement of informing the ultimate purchaser of the country of origin. See, HQ 729523 (May 1, 1986).

The facts in the instant case are very similar to the circumstances under which Customs has in the past approved a "major supplier" method of marking. Because Friskies must commingle the strips in order to achieve uniformity in quality and appearance, the foreign countries of origin of the strips contained in a particular box can no longer be identified. To identify with absolute accuracy the repackaged contents would require Friskies to cease all commingling and to, instead, maintain an extensive, rapidly changing stock of retail boxes that would accommodate all possible combinations or assortments of repackaged rawhide strips. This is the sort of burden that Customs sought to prevent in allowing "major supplier" marking.

Accordingly, so long as the source countries of at least 75 percent of the "cheweez" in each batch are accounted for, a "major supplier" marking is appropriate. In allowing such a marking we note, however, that it is not permissible to list names representative of a past importing period which are not representative of the immediate batch. See, C.S.D. 90-42 (HQ 733016 dated January 11, 1990) and HQ 089756 (September 27, 1991). Thus, so long as the above criteria are met and the certification requirements pertaining to repackaging set forth in section 134.25, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.25) are satisfied, the retail boxes for the small strips may be marked, "Contains Product From the United States, Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador." and the retail boxes for the large strips may be marked, "Contains Product From Mexico and Colombia."


Rawhide strips, imported from several different countries and commingled in the U.S. subsequent to importation as a result of necessary processing operations and before delivery to the ultimate purchaser, may be marked by means of a "major supplier" caption, as described above, and in accordance with the conditions set forth in T.D. 89-66.


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling