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NY L83351

March 31, 2005

MAR-2 RR:NC:SP:232 L83351


Mr. Todd Geisness
United States Distilled Products Company
1607 S. 12th Street
Princeton, MN 55371


Dear Mr. Geisness:

This is in response to your letter dated March 4, 2005 requesting a ruling on the country of origin of imported French brandy that will be processed in the U.S. by a U.S. manufacturer. A marked sample was not submitted with your letter for review.

Information was submitted with your initial request dated February 8, 2005. You indicate that French brandy will be imported into the United States at 150 proof. It will be placed in an outdoor processing tank, two separate activated carbons will be placed into the brandy, and the tank will be agitated with compressed air for one hour. The brandy will then be pumped through a filtering system and into a clean tank. After the carbon treatment, the brandy is 149.5 proof. The resulting product is called “neutral brandy.” You advise that the activated carbons remove specific taste and aroma characteristics, while leaving the taste and aroma characters of the brandy that are desired. The taste of the product is stripped of almost all tannin and fusel oil character, and the brandy turns from a medium amber color to a water white color. You indicate that the product still has very specific characteristics of brandy, however, the earthy cellar-like character has been stripped away leaving a more refined brandy.

This processed brandy is then blended with California brandy to create the final 80 proof product, which is “Phillips Brandy.” The imported French brandy makes up 43 percent to 47 percent of the final product on a wine gallon basis. You state that the taste of finished brandy product comes primarily from the California brandy, oak flavors, blending agents and vanilla.

The marking statute, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) 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.

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), mandates that the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. Section 134.1(d), defines the ultimate purchaser as generally the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. 19 CFR 134.1(d)(1) states that if an imported article will be used in manufacture, the manufacturer may be the ultimate purchaser if he subjects the imported article to a process which results in a substantial transformation of the article. 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 and that the manufacturer or processor will be considered the ultimate purchaser of the constituent materials. In such circumstances, the imported article is excepted from marking and only the outermost container is required to be marked. See, 19 CFR 134.35.

In this case, the imported French brandy has not been substantially transformed as a result of the U.S. processing, and therefore the U.S. manufacturer is not the ultimate purchaser of the imported French brandy. The imported French brandy remains a product of “France” for country of origin marking.

This merchandise is subject to The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (The Bioterrorism Act), which is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Information on the Bioterrorism Act can be obtained by calling FDA at telephone number (301) 575-0156, or at the Web site www.fda.gov/oc/bioterrorism/bioact.html.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist John Maria at 646-733-3031.


Robert B. Swierupski

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