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Exporters Of CO Tuna To USA Could Face Hefty Duty

Frozen yellowfin tuna steaks and loins treated with carbon monoxide and exported to the US market – mostly from Indonesia – could face a tariff charge, if the US Customs authority changes the classification of the treated tuna to a “prepared or preserved item.”

According to a recent article by, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is looking at making the change nationwide, which would raise the tariff from virtually 0% to 12.5%. US Customs has already made the change at one port, where one American importer, Sea Delight, received an invoice for duty owed.
Carbon monoxide is a common processing technique for US-bound tuna steaks, as it prevents oxidation and preserves the tuna’s red colour, making the fish more aesthetically pleasing. The process has been “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2000, but the federal agency is now asking the industry to prove that the treated tuna meets the GRAS standard. This is because CO treatment makes the detection of spoilage and high histamine counts more difficult to detect.
Currently, yellowfin tuna imports, both treated and untreated, are considered raw fish or fillets and no duty is charged.
Indonesia is the top exporter of frozen yellowfin tuna loins to the US, followed by Vietnam, Philippines, Mexico and Thailand.