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Food Casings Classified as Made-Up Textile Products, Court Says

Wednesday, November 08, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of International Trade has upheld U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s classification of food casings composed of both textiles and plastics as made-up textile products under 6307.90.98 (7 percent duty). Plaintiff Kalle USA Inc. had argued that these items are articles of plastic under HTSUS 3917.39.0050 (3.1 percent duty).

The products at issue are used for encasing raw sausage, scalded-emulsion sausage, cooked-meat emulsion sausage, ham and other processed meat products, and cheese. The inner textile fabric layer and the outer plastic coating layer together provide a casing that has several features, including the ability to absorb dyes and aroma substances and transfer them into the encased product. The textile material gives the casings strength and shape, while the plastic coating material only fills the spaces between the textile fibers. After importation, the casings are cut to lengths required by customers, impregnated with flavors, and then sold to the processed meat industry.

The CIT rejected Kalle’s arguments that the casings are classified in heading 3917, stating that (1) section notes do not always trump chapter notes in a classification case, (2) the casings do not fall within one of the exclusions to heading 5903 that would result in their classification in chapter 39 (i.e., they are not completely embedded in or coated with plastics, nor is the textile present merely for reinforcing purposes), and (3) the process of gluing the ends of the textile-plastic sheeting together to make a tube fits the requirements for “made up” as defined by the HTSUS provisions and case law.

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