MAR-2 RR:NC:2:228 G88510

Ms. Margaret Walser
Willow Wind Organic Farms
38278 Angels Landing N.
Ford, WA 99013


Dear Ms. Walser:

This is in response to your letter dated March 19, 2001 requesting a ruling on the country of origin marking requirements for imported frozen vegetable products. Samples of the current and proposed new marking were submitted with your letter for review.

Your firm grows a variety of vegetables at several locations within the United States, Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand. With the exception of products described as “Potato Crisps,” the vegetables will consist of whole or cut products that have been cleaned, cut, blanched, and frozen at the place where they were grown, and shipped to a location in the United States or Canada where they will be packed into plastic bags for retail sale. The packaged vegetables may be of a single type (e.g., green beans, corn, carrots, etc.) or mixed (e.g., peas and carrots), and may be the produce of a single country or of two or more. The “Potato Crisps” consist of potatoes grown in the United States or Canada, shipped to a location in Canada where they are washed, cut, blanched, ground, blended with other ingredients, fried in oil, frozen, packaged in plastic bags for retail sale, and shipped to the United States.

The packages currently in use bear the country of origin marking on the back of the plastic bag, below and in approximately the same size type as the name and address of the United States distributor, and may identify the vegetables as a “product of” a single country (e.g., Canada) or of one of two or more countries (e.g., “U.S.A. or Canada,” “U.S.A., Canada, or New Zealand”). You have proposed relocating the country of origin marking to a position along side or below the imprinted “product code.” The samples you have provided show the product code is also located on the back of the plastic bag, and is an impression made with a permanent ink and in larger type than the current country of origin marking.

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.

As provided in section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), the country of origin marking is considered conspicuous if the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. is able to find the marking easily and read it without strain.

With regard to the permanency of a marking, section 134.41(a), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(a)), provides that as a general rule marking requirements are best met by marking worked into the article at the time of manufacture. For example, it is suggested that the country of origin on metal articles be die sunk, molded in, or etched. However, section 134.44, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.44), generally provides that any marking that is sufficiently permanent so that it will remain on the article until it reaches the ultimate purchaser unless deliberately removed is acceptable.

The country of origin marking requirements for a "good of a NAFTA country" are also determined in accordance with Annex 311 of the North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA"), as implemented by section 207 of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat 2057) (December 8, 1993) and the appropriate Customs Regulations. The Marking Rules used for determining whether a good is a good of a NAFTA country are contained in Part 102, Customs Regulations. The marking requirements of these goods are set forth in Part 134, Customs Regulations.

Section 134.45(a)(2) of the regulations, provides that "a good of a NAFTA country may be marked with the name of the country of origin in English, French or Spanish. Section 134.1(g) of the regulations, defines a "good of a NAFTA country" as an article for which the country of origin is Canada, Mexico or the United States as determined under the NAFTA Marking Rules.

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.

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.

Applying the NAFTA Marking Rules set forth in Part 102 of the regulations to the facts of this case, we find that the imported “Potato Crisps” is a good of Canada for marking purposes.

All other frozen vegetables are goods of the country or countries of their growth, i.e., Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, The United States, etc. However, since components of United States origin are not required to be marked with their country pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304, Customs does not require that the marking of the frozen vegetables include the United States. Where the imported frozen vegetables are mixtures of vegetables grown in more than one country, the actual countries of growth must be indicated. Use of the terms “or” or “and/or” (e.g., “product of Canada or the United States”) are not acceptable for purposes of 19 U.S.C. 1304, since they do not indicate the actual country of origin of the imported product.

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has jurisdiction concerning the use of the phrase “Made in the U.S.A.” or similar words denoting U.S. origin. Any inquiries regarding the use of such phrases reflecting U.S. origin should be directed to:

Federal Trade Commission Division of Enforcement 6th & Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20508

The proposed method of marking - relocating the country of origin marking to be in close proximity and in similar type as the product code - will satisfy the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134 and is an acceptable country of origin marking for the imported frozen vegetables.

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 Stanley Hopard at 212-637-7065.

Should you wish to request an administrative review of this ruling, submit a copy of this ruling and all relevant facts and arguments within 30 days of the date of this letter, to the Director, Commercial Rulings Division, Headquarters, U.S. Customs Service, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20229.


Robert B. Swierupski
National Commodity
Specialist Division