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HQ 952820

March 3, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 952820 LPF


TARIFF NO.: 1604.20.6090

Area Director
U.S. Customs Service
Room 425
6 World Trade Center
New York, NY 10048

RE: Internal Advice Request No. 68/91; Surimi imitation crabmeat (chunk and flake style); Subheading 1604.20.60, other prepared or preserved fish, other, other; HRL 086271; NYRL 861474

Dear Director:

This is in response to Internal Advice Request No. 68/91, initiated by a letter dated September 9, 1991, submitted by Mr. Peter Doukas, Vice President, Mutual Interest Transactions, Inc., P.O. Box 185, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey 07417-0185. The request regards the classification of surimi imitation crabmeat under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The product at issue is a crabmeat analog manufactured to resemble natural crab body meat (chunk and flake style), as extracted from the crab in non-uniform chunks, flakes, and shreds. The product, generally, is packaged in plastic bags and is imported in a frozen condition. Mr. Peter Doukas, of Mutual Interest Transactions, Inc., explained telephonically to our office, on February 23, 1993, that the product is created by placing the cooked batter through a shredding machine which can be adjusted to produce different types of pieces, such as chunks, flakes, or shreds.


Whether the chunk and flake style surimi imitation crabmeat is classifiable in subheading 1604.20.2000 as other prepared or preserved fish, other, balls, cakes and puddings or in subheading 1604.20.6090 as other prepared or preserved fish, other, other, other.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in their appropriate order provide a framework for classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA. Most imported goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (EN's) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI's.

Customs and the inquirer agree that the product is classifiable within heading 1604 as prepared or preserved fish and, at the six digit subheading level, within 1604.20 as other prepared or preserved fish. However, at the eight digit subheading level, 1604.20.20 provides for balls, cakes and puddings of other prepared or preserved fish, while 1604.20.60 provides for other prepared or preserved fish. Pursuant to GRI 6, the GRI's, section notes, and chapter notes pertain to subheadings and headings in the same fashion.

The inquirer submits that because surimi manufactured to resemble legs, claws, or scallops has been classified as "balls or cakes," while surimi resembling body meat has been classified as "other," two different classifications for the same product have been created, one for surimi of a uniform shape and size, and another for those of a non-uniform shape and size. Because subheading 1604.20 includes various provisions providing for "pastes," "balls, cakes and puddings," "fish sticks," and "other," it appears that the framers of the HTSUSA intended to create several provisions wherein the various forms of surimi or other fish products could be classified.

The terms "balls, cakes and puddings," as included in subheading 1604.20 are not defined within the HTSUSA nor within the applicable EN's. However, Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary 126, 952 (1990) defines "ball" as "1: a round or roundish body or mass..." and the term "paste" as "1a: a dough that contains a considerable proportion of fat and is used for pastry crust or fancy rolls...c: a smooth food product made by evaporation or grinding." Surimi, in the form of chunks or flakes, does not fit either definition.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 086271, issued February 7, 1990, Customs, in citing The Random House Dictionary of the English Language 208 (Unabridged ed., 1983), defined "cake" as:

1) A sweet baked food in loaf or layer form, made with or without shortening, usually with baking powder or soda, and liquid....

4) A shaped or molded mass of other food: a fish cake.

Because the surimi is shredded in order to create chunks and flakes resembling crab body meat, and is imported in this condition, it is not a "cake" (e.g., a shaped or molded mass of food). See The Carrington Co., United Geophysical Corp. v. The United States, 61 CCPA 77, C.A.D. 1126, 496 F. 2d 902 (1974) stating that the classification of an imported article must rest upon its condition as imported.

This position is in accord with prior Customs rulings. In New York Ruling Letter 861474, issued April 10, 1991, salad cut and fancy flake imitation crabmeat were classified in 1604.20.6090, and in HRL 086271, supra, individual and uniform pieces of surimi, roughly cylindrical in shape, and formed from a mixture including minced pollack, were classified in 1604.20.3000.


The chunk and flake style surimi imitation crabmeat is classifiable in subheading 1604.20.6090, as "Prepared or preserved fish...: Other prepared or preserved fish: Other: Other, Other." The general column one rate of duty is 6 percent ad valorem.

You should advise the internal advice applicant of this decision and forward them a copy.


John Durant, Director

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