CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 082675 SS

David O. Elliott, Esq.
Barnes, Richardson & Colburn
475 Park Avenue South
New York, N.Y. 10016

RE: Tariff classification of fiber-reinforced cellulosic plastic sausage casings

Dear Mr. Elliott:

Thank you for the recent additional submissions regarding fibrous sausage casings. We have reviewed all the facts including our previous determinations regarding the composition of fiber-reinforced cellulosic plastic casings, Headquarters file 061462, May 27, 1983, and classification of this same casing under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), Headquarters file 081006, October 6, 1987. This is our decision.


The merchandise in question is fiber-reinforced cellulosic plastic sausage casings. This merchandise generally consists of fibrous paper, regenerated cellulose and glycerin. However, the facts indicate that in some instances cellulosic casings may not contain paper. When paper is used in this type of casing, its function is to provide uniformity and sizing control for the casings.


What is the proper tariff classification under the HTSUSA for fiber-reinforced cellulosic plastic sausage casings?


General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, HTSUSA, provides that "classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes."


Heading 3917, HTSUSA, provides for "Tubes, pipes and hoses and fittings therefor (for example, joints, elbows, flanges), of plastics." Note 8 to Chapter 39 provides, in pertinent part, that "[f]or purposes of heading 3917, the expression "tubes, pipes and hoses"... also includes sausage casings...." "Plastics" is defined for the tariff schedule in Note 1 of Chapter 39; the term includes cellulose and its chemical derivatives of heading 3912.

Heading 4823, HTSUSA, provides for other articles of paper. The Explanatory Notes for this heading state that this heading includes sausage casings.

Neither heading, by its terms, covers sausage casings composed of more than one material. However, GRI 2(b) provides in part:

Any reference to goods of a given material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to goods consisting wholly or partly of such material or substance. The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of Rule 3.

Thus, GRI 2(b) expands heading 3917 to include tubes consisting partly of plastics, and heading 4823 to include articles partly of paper. Following GRI 3(a), since each of these headings refers to part only of the materials contained in the casings, the two headings are to be regarded as equally specific, and classification is then to be determined under GRI 3(b).

GRI 3(b) provides that goods consisting of different materials "shall be classified as if they consisted of the material .... which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable." The Explanatory Notes for GRI 3(b) state that "[t]he factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods."

In the instant case, the regenerated cellulose generally dominates by weight in reinforced casings. It thoroughly permeates the paper, which by itself is highly porous and will not hold its helical shape. Some casings are made of regenerated cellulose without a paper reinforcement, clearly implying that paper is not essential for the production of a cellulosic casing.


While the reinforced casings provide greater strength and uniformity for larger meat products, this attribute does not change the fact that they are still cellulosic casings. They are not essentially paper casings to which some regenerated cellulose is added. Rather, they are cellulosic casings which have been reinforced with paper for greater strength and uniformity.

In light of the above facts and applicable rules of tariff classification, the material which imparts the essential character to the product in issue is the regenerated cellulose.

Counsel's argument that the merchandise in issue is properly classifiable under subheading 3917.10.50, HTSUSA, based on a previous U.S. Customs Headquarter's Internal Advice, 162/79, file 073604, and on the basis that the cross-reference between the Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (TSUSA) and the HTSUSA indicates that the merchandise in issue is properly classifiable under the above cited subheading, fails on several grounds.

The Internal Advice and rulings cited by counsel were under the TSUSA. Under this system of classification, the principle governing classification of the sausage casings in issue was the "chief value" concept. This concept has no application under the HTSUSA, which is the basis for this decision. Further, the cross-reference of the TSUSA and the HTSUSA has no legal significance. This cross-reference is designed to assist the user in translating a known classification in the TSUSA into a likely classification under the HTSUSA, and should not be viewed as a substitute for the traditional tariff classification process. See 22 Cust. Bull. 10 (1988), 53 Fed. Reg. 27447 (July 20,1988).


The merchandise in issue in the instant case, fiber- reinforced cellulosic plastic sausage casings, is properly classifiable under subheading 3917.10.10, HTSUSA, as sausage casings of cellulosic plastics materials. The decision set forth in file 081006 is affirmed.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

SSingh:tj:typed 01/09/89