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HQ 965127

April 23, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965127JGB


TARIFF NO.: 0508.00

Mr. William M. Stringfield
249 Ocean Boulevard
Suite 1008
Long Beach, CA 90802

RE: NY B80733 revoked; cuttlebone

Dear Mr. Stringfield:

This is in response to your letter of October 30, 2000, to Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, on behalf of Petsmart, requesting a ruling on the classification of a cuttlebone under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was referred to this office for response. We regret the delay in responding.


The merchandise is described as an article designed to be attached to the interior of bird cages. Some are supplied with metal clips for attaching to the cage The item supplies calcium and mineral nutrition for birds kept in cages. The article is derived from the cuttlefish, a mollusk. During manufacture they are commonly cleaned with water, trimmed to various sizes (4-7 inches in length and 1-3 inches in width), soaked in hydrogen peroxide for whitening and to kill bacteria, and dried in ovens.


Whether the cuttlebone is classified in subheading 2309.90.95, HTSUS, as preparations of a kind used in animal feeding; in heading 0508 which provides for cuttlebone, unworked or simply prepared but not cut to shape, or in heading 9601, HTSUS, which provides for ivory, bone, tortoise-shell, horn antlers, coral, mother-or-pearl, and other animal carving material, and articles of these materials.


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUS) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined 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 GRIs may then be applied.

In interpreting the HTSUS, the Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, may be used. The ENs, although not dispositive or legally binding, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127-28 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The HTSUS headings and subheadings under consideration for the classification of the cuttlebone are as follows:

0508: Coral and similar materials, unworked or simply prepared but not otherwise worked; shells of molluscs, crustaceans or echinoderms and cuttlebone, unworked or simply prepared but not cut to shape, powder and waste thereof

2309.90.95: Preparations of a kind used in animal feeding: Other: Other: Other: Other.

9601: Worked ivory, bone, tortoise-shell, horn, antlers, coral, mother-of-pearls and other animal carving material, and articles of these materials (including articles obtained by molding)

This article is a composite good and, as such, cannot be classified by GRI 1, in that no single heading describes the article. The cuttlebone portion imported alone would be classified under one of the headings indicated supra. The metal clip component alone would be classified under heading 7326, HTSUS, the provision for other articles of iron or steel. Under the provisions of GRI 2, “the classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3.” GRI 3 provides, in pertinent part, “When, by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:...when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods ... those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.” GRI 3(b) provides that “... composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.”

The ENs to GRI 3(b) at paragraph (VIII) lists, as factors to help determine the essential character of such goods, the nature of the materials or components, their bulk, quantity, weight or value, and the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

The cuttlebone component of the article is the most prominently featured aspect in the marketing and packaging. The metal clip merely holds the article up against the birdcage enabling the bird easily to reach the cuttlebone with its beak. The clip represents a minor portion of the good and does not represent the reason for purchasing the good in that the function of the good appears to be to provide minerals to the bird. The cuttlebone component is the predominant feature of the article. It constitutes the largest and most visible portion of the article. Therefore, in considering the relationship or role of the cuttlebone component to the use of the entire article, we conclude that the cuttlebone component represents the essential character.

Heading 0508, HTSUS, provides for cuttlebone, provided it is "unworked or simply prepared but not cut to shape." This office has determined through investigation and sampling that the cuttlebone has typically been subjected to some cutting operation along the exterior edges. This process raises the question whether they have been "worked" or "cut to shape." Samples provided by this importer demonstrate that the raw cuttlebone which has been whitened and disinfected in a hydrogen peroxide bath, but not cut or otherwise processed consists of the same, or very similar shape as the "finished" article. In the unfinished article, the cuttlebone remains embedded in a mantle, a thin, brittle cartilaginous material that covers one face of the cuttlebone, extending out beyond the edge of the natural cuttlebone in a band of varying widths, measuring as little as a few millimeters in width up to approximately two centimeters. Customs learned from an ichthyologist at the Smithsonian Institution that this mantle consists primarily of a proteinacious material. The cuttlebone, in contrast, is primarily calcium carbonate. Thus, while the two components in the untrimmed product are of different materials, it is the calcium carbonate portion of the cuttlebone which presents the desirable commercial entity. In preparing the cuttlebone for commercial sale, the cartilaginous mantle, which readily snaps off by application of finger pressure, appears to be trimmed off the cuttlebone either with a knife blade or by some abrasive process. The trimming process, itself, yields a natural cuttlebone of the same size and shape as contained embedded in the untrimmed mantle. The cuttlebone, per se, has not been cut to a new shape or size. Therefore, the cuttlebone is no more than "unworked or simply prepared cuttlebone, not cut to shape." It has not been processed beyond simple cleaning and disinfecting in the hydrogen peroxide bath, which incidentally whitens the product, nor does the removal of the cartilaginous mantle constitute more than a simple preparation necessary to bring the crude cuttlebone into a saleable condition.

Heading 2309 provides for preparations of a kind used in animal feeding. The ENs to heading 2309 state that the heading covers "sweetened forage" and "prepared animal feeding stuffs consisting of a mixture of several nutrients designed: (1) to provide the animal with a rational and balanced daily diet (complete feed); (2) to achieve a suitable daily diet by supplementing the basic farm-produced feed with organic or inorganic substances (supplementary feed); or (3) for use in making complete or supplementary feeds." The cuttlefish bone or cuttlebone is neither "sweetened forage" nor "prepared animal feeding stuffs consisting of a mixture of several nutrients" as described in the ENs and, therefore, cannot qualify for classification in heading 2309.

Heading 9601 provides for ivory, bone, tortoise-shell, horn, antlers, coral, mother-of-pearl, and other animal carving material, and articles of these materials (including articles obtained by molding.) The ENs to the heading state:

This heading relates to worked animal material (other than those referred to in heading 96.02). These materials are mainly worked by carving or cutting. Most of them may also be moulded.

For the purposes of this heading, the expression "worked" refers to materials which have undergone processes extending beyond the simple preparations permitted in the heading for the raw material in question (see the Explanatory Notes to heading 05.05 to 05.08). The heading therefore covers pieces of ivory, bone tortoise-shell, horn, antlers, coral, mother-of-pearl, etc, in the form of sheets, plates, rods, etc., cut to shape (including square or rectangular) or polished or otherwise worked by grinding, drilling, milling, turning, etc. . . .

Provided they are worked or in the form of articles, the heading includes the following: . . .
Shells of crustaceans and molluscs."

The cuttlebones examined by Customs for similar uses appear not to be worked, because the trimming away of the proteinaceous mantle does not alter the natural shape of the cuttlebone and does not constitute more than a simple preparation of the cuttlebone for its use as a dietary supplement and honing block for birds. Therefore, classification in heading 9601, HTSUS, is precluded.

This decision is in accord with Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 965481, issued this date, which revokes New York Ruling Letter (NY) B80733, dated January 7, 1997.


The cuttlebone is classifiable under heading 0508, HTSUS, as: cuttlebone, unworked or simply prepared but not cut to shape.


John Durant, Director

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