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NY M80234

February 23, 2006

MAR-2 RR:NC:2:231 M80234


Ms. Carol J. Glaser
Commodity Services Manager
Riviana Foods, Inc.
2777 Allen Parkway, 16th Floor
Houston, TX 77019


Dear Ms. Glaser:

This is in response to your letter dated January 30, 2006, requesting a further clarification of our ruling in NYRL L89736, issued on January 17, 2006.

In our initial ruling, the issue presented was whether the proposed marking, “Product of India,” was an acceptable country of origin marking for imported Basmati Rice, if another marking, such as the name and U.S. address of the importer, appeared on the retail package. A sample of the artwork for the product, submitted with the ruling request, displayed the name and U.S. address of the importer on one panel of the retail package. The importer’s name was immediately followed in identical bold print and upper case letters, by the legend, “PRODUCT OF INDIA.” After noting the relevant sections of the marking regulations and their application to the proposed marking, the ruling letter concluded that the marking, as it appeared on the package, satisfied the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 C.F.R. Part 134 and was an acceptable country of origin marking.

In the ruling request currently before us, artwork has been submitted for the cartons in which the product will be imported and, subsequently, shipped to the importer’s distribution centers for ultimate delivery to grocery stores for retail sale to consumers. The panel on which the country of origin will be displayed contains the following information: First, a bar code, a listing of contents (i.e., 12 x 2 lb. packages), country of origin (PRODUCT OF INDIA), country in which packed (PACKAGED IN SPAIN), followed by the name and U.S. address of the importer. The lettering of the country of origin, the country in which the rice was packed for retail sale and the name and address of the U.S. importer is of identical size and color. Further, although not immediately beneath the importer’s address, the country of origin legend is located in close proximity thereto.

Section 134.46, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.46), deals with cases in which the words "United States," or "American," the letters "U.S.A.," any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or locality in the United States, or the name of any foreign country or locality other than the country or locality in which the article was manufactured or produced, appears on an imported article or its container, and those words, letters or names may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of origin. In such a case, there shall appear, legibly and permanently, in close proximity to such words, letters, or name, and in at least a comparable size, the name of the country of origin preceded by "Made in," Product of," or other words of similar meaning.

Accordingly, in order to satisfy the close proximity requirement, the country of origin marking must generally appear on the same side(s) or surface(s) in which the name or locality other than the actual country of origin appears.

The proposed marking of the shipping carton for “Mahatma” brand basmati rice, as described above, satisfies the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134 and is an acceptable country of origin marking.

A second question raised in the instant ruling request concerns the inclusion of the name of the country in which the rice was packed for retail sale. The facts presented in the original ruling request stated that the rice was shipped from India to Spain for retail packaging, prior to being imported into the United States. On the original artwork, the name, address and country of the packer was displayed in lower case print (unbolded) directly beneath the country of origin legend. Also, as noted in the current request, the proposed marking of the shipping cartons includes the legend, “Packaged in Spain.” The question posed in the present request is whether the importer is obligated to identify the country in which the rice is packed on either the retail package or on the shipping carton. Additionally, if such marking is required, it is asked whether it is necessary to show, also, the name of the packer, or the name and address of the packer?

Country of origin marking requirements, generally, are set forth in §134.11 of the Code of Federal Regulations, (19 C.F.R. 134.11), as follows:

§ 134.11. Country of origin marking required.

Unless excepted by law, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), requires that every article of foreign origin (or its container0 imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container will permit, in such manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article, at the time of importation into the Customs territory of the United States. Containers of articles excepted from marking shall be marked with the name of the country of origin of the article unless the container is also excepted from marking. [Bold-face and italics added for emphasis.]

The marking requirements administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) require marking with the country of origin of the imported goods (although, in some instances, the containers themselves are required to be marked with their own country of origin). There is no requirement in the statute for marking to identify the country in which the goods were packed, although CBP has permitted similar additional marking for purposes of clarification. For example, Internal Advice 9/98, issued on April 27, 1998 (File Number 560944), addressed the required country of origin marking on Spanish olive oil that had been refined and packaged in Italy or, alternatively, that had been blended with Italian olive oil and packed in Italy. The ruling held that the Spanish olive oil had not been substantially transformed, in either scenario, into a product of Italy and, accordingly, must be marked to indicate its Spanish origin. Similarly, Spanish olives that had only been packed in Italy were required to be marked to indicate Spain as the country of origin. The ruling indicated that “[m]arkings such as “Produced in Spain, Packed in Italy”; or “Olive Oil Produced in Italy and Spain, Packed in Italy”, as applicable, are examples of acceptable country of origin markings in this case.” Likewise, in a ruling dated December 20, 1996, Headquarters held that a watch that had been designed in the U.S. but manufactured in Singapore must be marked to identify Singapore as its country of origin but permitted additional marking to reflect the U.S. origin of the design:

“The phrase “Designed in the USA,” with the words “Made in Singapore” in close proximity and in the same size and color as the words “Designed in U.S.A.” satisfies the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR 134.46 if the words “Made in Singapore” are legible, conspicuous and permanent.”

Accordingly, in the instant case, the marking, “Product of India”, would satisfy the requirement for country of origin for the imported Basmati Rice. Additional marking to indicate that the rice was “Packed in Spain,” as it appears on both the shipping carton and the retail metallized bag, while not required by CBP, would be permissible, since such marking provides more complete information to the consumer.

Finally, with regard to the marking of imported goods, please note that, while the requirements enforced by CBP address only country of origin marking, product labeling requirements administered by other agencies,--notably, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture—may also apply in the marking of these goods.

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 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 181 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 181).

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 Thomas P. Brady at 646-733-3030.


Robert B. Swierupski

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