Labelling Requirements for Meat and Poultry Products
Table of Contents
- Common Name – Meat and Poultry Products
- List of Ingredients – Meat and Poultry Products
- Net Quantity – Meat and Poultry Products
- Identity and Principal Place of Business – Meat and Poultry Products
- Durable Life Date and Storage Instructions – Meat and Poultry Products
- Nutrition Labelling – Meat and Poultry Products
- Legibility and Location – Meat and Poultry Products
- Meat Inspection Legend
- Grade Designation
- Production Date and Identification Code of Production Lot
- Use of a Code on Hermetically Sealed Containers to Identify the Establishment
- Standard Container Size – Meat and Poultry Products
- Imported Meat and Poultry Products
- Other Required Markings
- Packaging Type
Phosphated Meats and Meat Products
- Products to which Phosphate Salts and/or Water are Incorporated
- Compositional Requirements
- Common Name – Phosphated Meats and Meat Products
- Declaration of the Minimum Meat Protein Content as Part of the Common Name
- Exemptions from Phosphated Meats and Meat Products
- List of Ingredients – Phosphated Meats and Meat Products
- Nutrition Facts Table – Phosphated Meats and Meat Products
- Summary Tables for Labelling Requirements
- Mechanically Tenderized Beef
- Meat and Poultry Extenders
- Advertisements for Bulk Beef, Veal, Pork and Lamb
- Voluntary Claims and Statements
- Reference Information
- Simulated Meat and Simulated Poultry Products
- Additional Information
Meat and poultry products include all products that contain more than 2% poultry or meat. Examples of meat include beef, veal and bison, whereas examples of poultry include chicken and turkey.
The labelling requirements of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 (MIR), and the Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations (under the Canada Agricultural Products Act) that are summarized in this section apply to meat products produced in federally registered establishments, as well as to imported meat products. When sold in Canada, these meat products are also subject to the labelling requirements under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA).
This web page also summarizes Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) requirements for meat products that apply to meat produced at both federally registered and non-federally registered establishments.
Meat products destined for intraprovincial trade are subject to the labelling requirements under the FDA and the CPLA. These are summarized in both this page and the core labelling, claims and statements, and food-specific labelling requirement pages of the Industry Labelling Tool. Provincial regulations may also apply to products sold within that province.
The labelling requirements detailed in the following sections are specific to meat and poultry products for human consumption. They are in addition to the core labelling and voluntary claims and statement requirements that apply to all prepackaged foods.
Common names for standardized meat products are shown in bold-faced type in Division 14 and 22 of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), in Schedule I of the Meat Inspection Regulations (MIR) or in the Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations. As with all foods with a standard of identity, only those foods that meet all the provisions set out in the standard can use the prescribed common name. For meat products that do not fall under a standard, the appropriate common name is the name by which the food is generally known. Information on appropriate common names for meat cuts of beef, veal, pork, lamb and poultry can be found in the Meat Cuts Manual.
For example, Schedule I of the MIR prescribes standards for ground meat. The common name used for these products must be the name that corresponds with the fat content, and other aspects of the standard, as follows:
- regular ground (naming the species) – maximum 30% fat
- medium ground (naming the species) – maximum 23% fat
- lean ground (naming the species) – maximum 17% fat
- extra-lean ground (naming the species) – maximum 10% fat
A product labelled with one of the above common names must not contain more than the maximum amount of fat and must accurately identify the animal species (e.g. regular ground beef may only include beef).
In the case of a beef carcass, a complete side, a hind quarter, a front quarter, a primal cut or a sub-primal cut, the product must be identified according to the specifications prescribed in the Livestock Carcass Grading Regulations.
For general information that applies to all foods, including meat, refer to Common Name.
A meat product that deviates from a prescribed standard may not use the common name associated with that standard unless the standardized common name is modified to indicate how the food differs in every respect, from the food described by the standard. For more information, see Modified Standardized Common Names.
Example: Meat spread, to which tomato has been added, may no longer use the common name "meat spread", as this food does not comply with the standard. The common name must be modified to describe the deviation from the standard, such as "meat spread with tomato".
If a meat product, consisting of meat, meat by-products, mechanically separated meat, or a combination of these meat ingredients, is derived from more than one animal species, and any of these species is referred to in the common name, then all the animal species from which the meat products are derived must be identified.
Example: A meat loaf, containing beef and mutton, and pork by-product as meat product ingredients, shall be described as either "beef, mutton and pork loaf" or simply as "meat loaf".
In the above example, beef constitutes the greatest percentage of the meat products used in the composition of the loaf, followed by mutton, and then pork by-product. The common name reflects the content of the three meat products in descending order of their presence.
When a gelling agent has been added to a prepared meat or prepared meat by-product, a statement to the effect that a gelling agent has been added must be declared on the principal display panel or the word "jellied" must be included as part of the common name of the food [B.14.039, FDR].
When phosphate salts and/or water have been incorporated into a meat product, this addition must be reflected in the common name of the product, unless the product is cured or preserved or a standard is prescribed for it in Schedule I of the MIR. For more information on specific requirements for common name of these products refer to Phosphated Meats and Meat Products.
The amount of water added and retained in raw-single ingredient meat products due to post-evisceration contact with water, in excess of naturally occurring moisture, must be declared as part of the product name on the principal display panel of prepackaged products or on shipping containers for bulk products. Raw single-ingredient meat products include items such as dressed carcasses, parts of dressed carcasses, offal and giblets.
Retained water may be rounded off to the nearest whole number. Retained water below 0.5% does not need to be declared. The permitted labelling variation is a maximum of 20 percent above the declared amount within the retained water statement.
Operators may include a "no retained water" statement on the label (optional) when no water added due to post-evisceration processing has been retained by the raw single-ingredient meat product.
The following four phrases are acceptable:
- "up to X % water retained";
- "less than X % water retained";
- "up to X % retained water added due to processing"; and
- "no retained water".
Note: A claim such as "no water added" is not permitted since it may likely be considered misleading under subsection 5.(1) of the FDA. Refer to Negative Claims Pertaining to the Absence or Non-Addition of a Substance for more information.
The moisture declaration is required as part of the product description, and shall be conspicuous and not less than half the size of the product's common name or half of any additional mandatory information (e.g.: "with giblets").
Packages containing a variety of raw single-ingredient meat products (e.g. giblets) may be labelled by either:
- listing a separate declaration for each component; or
- a single declaration which indicates the maximum water retained by the components.
Poultry carcasses containing giblets (e.g. frozen turkeys) require a retained water declaration as part of the product name for the giblets.
Meat Products Treated with Salt and Water in Accordance with Judaic Law
Only water absorbed and retained as part of the Kosher process may be excluded from the retained water declaration, provided that the product description contains the phrase "soaked and salted" or a similar phrase.
Prepared Meat Products
Any retained water in raw single-ingredient meat products, used as ingredients, does not need to be declared on the labelling of prepared, including multi-ingredient meat products (e.g. raw or cooked sausage, pre-basted turkeys, or deli meats). However, these meat products must comply with applicable standards of identity or composition requirements for the specific prepared meat product as described in the MIR, the FDR or the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures.
All ingredients, components and allergens of a meat product must be listed in descending order of their presence [94(1), MIR]. The Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) requirements respecting ingredients lists also apply to prepackaged meat products.
The following prepackaged meat products are exempt from declaring a list of ingredients:
- Prepackaged meat, meat by-products, poultry and poultry meat by-products barbecued, roasted or broiled on the retail premises are exempt from declaring a list of ingredients [B.01.008, FDR].
There are also exemptions from declaring certain meat ingredients and components in the list of ingredients, as follows:
See List of Ingredients for more information.
The following are considered acceptable declarations of ingredients for cured meat products, such as ham and bacon:
- Where the list of ingredients appears on the principal display panel, immediately below the common name of the meat product, the name of the meat product does not need to be repeated in the ingredient listing.
- Example 1: Smoked ham
- Cured with salt, sodium phosphate, sodium nitrate
- Example 2: Bacon
- Cured with water, salt, sugar, dextrose, sodium nitrate
- Artificial maple flavour added
- Example 1: Smoked ham
- Where the ingredient listing is not immediately below the name but located elsewhere on the label, a total list of ingredients, including the kind of meat product, is necessary following the word "ingredients"
- Example 1: smoked ham
- Ingredients: ham, water, salt, sodium phosphate, sodium nitrate, smoke.
- Example 2: bacon
- Ingredients: pork, water, salt, sugar, dextrose, sodium nitrate, smoke, artificial maple flavour.
- Example 1: smoked ham
If more than one mechanically separated meat species is used in the meat block, the correct way to declare the ingredients list is to declare the types of mechanically separated meat in order of their proportion.
For example, the formulation below would be declared as:
Mechanically separated meat (chicken, pork, beef, veal), water...
|Species in meat block||Per cent|
|Mechanically separated chicken||26.85%|
|Mechanically separated pork||20.00%|
|Mechanically separated beef||10.00%|
|Mechanically separated veal||9.55%|
|Spices and Filler||11.00%|
If more than one mechanically separated species meat is used in the meat block as well as boneless meats and, where the mechanically separated meats represent, in total, the highest percentage of the meat block, the ingredient list must declare the mechanically tenderized meat first (in order of proportion).
For example, the formulation below would be declared as:
Mechanically separated meat (chicken, turkey, pork), beef, pork, beef by-products; water...
|Meat used in meat block||Per cent|
|Mechanically separated chicken||12.85%|
|Mechanically separated turkey||10.00%|
|Mechanically separated pork||8.00%|
|Beef by-products (plasma, tripes)||8.00%|
|Filler and spices||11.55%|
|Total of ingredients||100%|
Smoke and smoke flavours are ingredients, and must be listed accordingly. The following designations are appropriate, depending on how these ingredients were added to the meat product:
- "Naturally smoked": the meat product was exposed to smoke generated from the direct combustion of hardwood, hardwood sawdust or corn cobs. This can be done either in the presence of heat or not; and/or
- "smoked" – the meat product was treated with smoke derived directly or indirectly (i.e. liquid smoke) from hardwood, hardwood sawdust or corn cobs. In the case of liquid smoke, the term "smoked" must be used only if the meat product was subjected to heat in the presence of a vaporized liquid smoke solution or when the meat product subjected to heat has been packaged in a casing or wrapping impregnated with liquid smoke; and/or
- "smoke flavour" – this term must be used when liquid smoke has been added to the meat product by methods other than those mentioned above, e.g. adding liquid smoke directly into the emulsion.
The use of edible wrappings (e.g. collagen or carrageenan) in the preparation of meat products other than sausages must be declared at the end of the ingredient list. For example, the declaration "wrapped in carrageenan", "coated with carrageenan" or "wrapped in collagen" must appear at the end of the ingredient list of hams wrapped in these materials.
Prepackaged meat products must be labelled with a net quantity declaration. Information on units of measure, location, legibility and other details can be found in Net Quantity. Note that the MIRrequirements for the size of the numerical portion of the net quantity declaration are the same as those described on the Net Quantity page.
Most meat products are required to declare net quantity by weight. Exceptions are summarized below.
The net quantity of meat products packed in brine or vinegar must be declared by weight exclusive of the free liquid [103(3), MIR]. While a drained weight methodology is used to determine the weight declaration, this declaration should not use the words "drained weight".
The net quantity of the following meat products must be declared by volume [103(4), MIR]:
- Beans with pork;
- Infant foods;
- Junior foods;
Labels for prepackaged edible meat products that are prepared in a registered establishment and prepackaged at a random weight are not required to declare the net quantity [94(1) (b), MIR].
The Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) and Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations (CPLR) require the labels of prepackaged foods to carry a declaration of the identity and principal place of business of the responsible party.
As per the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures, this requirement can be met by declaring either:
- the complete name and address of the firm that prepares the meat product, or;
- the name and address of the firm for whom the meat product is produced, prepared or labelled, preceded by the words "prepared for"
Foreign firms must include the name of the country in the address, while firms in Canada may indicate either the province or Canada. Multi-establishment firms may show the address of the head office instead of the address of the establishment preparing the meat product.
Poultry carcasses packaged in a registered establishment for another registered establishment may bear the name and address of the receiving establishment. Hence the receiving establishment may send its bags to the packaging establishment without any label change. The establishment number on the closure clip must be the number of the establishment packaging the carcasses. The words "prepared for" are no longer required in this instance.
For more information, refer to Identity and Principal Place of Business.
The words "Best Before" and "Meilleur avant" followed by the durable life date must appear on the label of a prepackaged meat product where the durable life of the meat product is 90 days or less, as prescribed in B.01.007 of the FDR and in Section 94 of the MIR.
All consumer and bulk containers used in connection with edible meat products in a registered establishment must be labelled with storage instructions unless the meat contained therein is one of the following shelf-stable types:
- commercially sterile meat products in cans, jars, or pouches (excluding pasteurized products);
- dried meat products with a water activity (aw) value of 0.85 or less;
- meat products which have a pH value of 4.6 or lower;
- meat products packed in a salt or saturated salt solution;
- fermented meat products that have a pH level of 5.3 or less and an aw of 0.90 or less. It is understood that the pH of 5.3 or less is achieved at the end of the fermentation period; or
- meat products for which the operator submitted to the Director, Meat Programs Division, a quality control program and supporting data demonstrating that the process is validated to produce safe products and to ensure shelf stability.
All edible meat products, not considered as shelf stable, prepared in a registered establishment must be labelled with storage instructions consisting of one of the following statements:
"Keep refrigerated" or "Keep frozen", whichever is applicable. Storage instructions may be in the check-off form on labels of all containers (prepackaged products) or shipping containers, with the appropriate instruction checked off. The storage instructions shall be shown on the principal display panel [96(1), MIR].
For certain types of institutional products, the following may also be acceptable: "Keep refrigerated if used before (date) or freeze immediately".
Meat products prepared in non-registered establishments are subject to the date marking and storage instructions requirements of the FDR. For more information, refer to Date Markings.
Some meat products (i.e. raw single ingredient meats, meat by-products, poultry meats or poultry meat by-products) are usually exempt from declaring a Nutrition Facts table (NFT) under subsections B.01.401 (2)(a) and (b) of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR).
However, some meat products (i.e. ground meat, ground meat by-products, ground poultry meat or ground poultry meat by-products) always lose the exemption and are required to carry an NFT. For more information, please refer to Reasons for Losing the Exemption.
A disclaimer such as "subject to change with various suppliers" is not acceptable on retail store signs to qualify nutrition information covering a variety of meats on display. The retailer is responsible for providing accurate information concerning the product as sold and cannot be relieved of this responsibility by using a disclaimer.
For meat and poultry, the fat trim and skin are considered part of the edible portion of the food if present when sold; therefore, they are counted toward the values in the NFT. The bone is not counted toward the values in the NFT.
The available display surface (ADS) in the case of bacon board packages is the total surface of the package, excluding the space occupied by the UPC code, the package seams, and a surface equivalent to the length of the package by the width of a strip of bacon, so that the customer is able to see the bacon. The space equivalent to the length of the package by the width of a strip of bacon is only excluded in the calculation of the ADS if indeed the package has such a window to display the bacon. Refer to the Calculation Methods for Different Packaging Types for more information.
The information below applies to meat products prepared in federally registered establishments. For label legibility and location requirements for other meat products, refer to the core labelling requirement of interest or Legibility and Location.
Unless a container of a prepackaged meat product is mounted on a display card, all or part of the label of a meat product must be applied to the principal display panel [98(1), MIR]. If a container of a prepackaged meat product is mounted on a display card, then the label may be applied to the side of the display card that is visible under normal customary conditions of sale or use [98(2), MIR].
All information required on a label by the MIRmust be shown in a manner that is easily legible to any person under normal or customary conditions for sale or use and in characters of not less than 1.6 mm in height [99(2), MIR]. The height of a character is:
- where words appear in upper case, the height of the upper case letter and,
- where the words appear in lower case or in a mixture of upper and lower case, the height of the lower case letter "o" [99(1), MIR].
When the area of the principal display surface of a container is not more than 10 cm2, all information required on a label by the MIR, other than net quantity, can be in characters not less than 0.8 mm in height [100, MIR].
For information on minimum type size requirements for the numerical portion of the net quantity declaration, refer to Net Quantity.
The Meat Inspection Legend is an official registered trade-mark of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Subject to the Meat Inspection Act, it is the exclusive property of the Government of Canada and may only be used as authorized by the MIR, 1990.
All labels used in connection with edible meat products produced in a registered establishment must meet all of the requirements of the MIRand include the Meat Inspection Legend, with the exception of labels of bulk containers of fully marked prepackaged meat products.
The Meat Inspection Legend, when placed on a label, must have no transverse measurement through the centre of the legend of less than 10 mm and, where stamped or branded directly on a meat product, must have no transverse measurement through the centre of the legend of less than 25 mm.
For more information, refer to Chapter 7.6.5 of the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures.
Since grades only apply to meat and poultry carcasses, and do not apply to individual cuts, labels or advertisements for retail meat cuts may only include an indication of the grade of carcass from which the retail cut was derived (e.g. the label or advertisement should include words such as "cut from" or other appropriate words that do not give the impression that the retail cut was graded when indicating the carcass grade). Additionally, grade names must be reproduced in full. An appropriate reference would be "Cut from Canada AA beef".
When retail beef cuts are derived from carcasses of:
- one specific grade only, the label or advertisement declaration must make reference to that specific grade only (e.g., "Cut from Canada AA" or "Cut from USDA Choice")
- more than one grade, the label or advertisement declaration must make reference to the lowest grade involved plus the words "or higher" (e.g., "Cut from Canada A or higher", or "Cut from USDA Select or higher").
Former grade information declarations on retail packages or in advertising such as "Cut from Canada A/AA", "Cut from Canada A/AA/AAA" and "Cut from Canada A Grades" are no longer acceptable.
Grade names that do not include the name of the country that established the grade must be accompanied by a declaration of the country of origin. For example, while "A" is an Australian grade, the appropriate retail declaration would be "Cut from Australian A Grade".
There are requirements surrounding the use of grades in advertising for some types of meat. Refer to Advertisement for Bulk Beef, Veal, Pork and Lamb for more information.
All meat products must be labelled with the production date or with a code identifying the production lot. This code or date of production must appear on the immediate container of prepackaged meat products or on a tag attached to it. For a rapid identification of the product in the case of a recall procedure, it is recommended to add this code/date of production on the shipping containers of the prepackaged meat products. This information must also appear on the bulk containers of meat products. It is possible to use the durable life date statement as an identification code of production.
Codes may be used on hermetically sealed containers to identify the registration number, the meat product and the date of production.
The use of a code in replacement of the registration number is permitted provided the code is placed in front of the production codes (i.e. meat product, date) and is followed by either a hyphen (-), an oblique (/) or a space clearly distinguishing the establishment code from the production code. If desired, the establishment code may be placed on a separate line, above the production code. If the registration number is used, the same conditions apply.
The meat products set out in Column I of the table below cannot be prepackaged in weights other than the permitted weights set out in Column II [90, MIR].
|1.||Sliced bacon||From 1 to 100 g in increments of 1 g, 250 g, 375 g, 500 g, 1 kg|
|2.||Sliced ready-to-eat meat products and potted meat products||From 1 to 100 g in increments of 1 g, 125 g, 150 g, 175 g, 200 g, 250 g, 300 g, 375 g, 400 g, 500 g, 600 g, 700 g, 900 g, 1 kg|
|3.||Sausages and sausage meat||From 1 to 100 g in increments of 1 g, 125 g, 175 g, 225 g, 250 g, 300 g, 375 g, 450 g, 500 g, 600 g, 675 g, 750 g, 900 g, 1 kg|
The guidelines for labelling imported meat products are essentially the same as those for the labels of Canadian meat products, with two important differences (7.21.1, Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures):
- "product of (country of origin)" is to appear in close proximity to the product description; it shall be at least half the height of the largest letter on the main panel; and
- the inspection stamp or the statement of the exporting country must replace the Meat Inspection legend.
If any meat product is not a ready-to-eat meat product but has the appearance of or could be mistaken for a ready-to-eat meat product, the meat product shall bear the following information on its label [6(1), MIR]:
- the words "must be cooked", "cook and serve", "raw product", "uncooked" or any equivalent words or word as part of the common name of the product to indicate that the product requires cooking before consumption; and
- comprehensive cooking instructions such as an internal temperature-time relationship that, if followed, will result in a ready-to-eat meat product.
No meat product label can bear any word or words that could indicate or suggest that the meat product is a ready-to-eat meat product unless the meat product complies with section 22 of the MIR [6(2), MIR].
Dressed carcasses that are derived from a young chicken or young duck, or a portion thereof, that may contain kidneys, must contain the words "May contain kidneys" on their labels [94, MIR].
Any meat, meat by-products, poultry meat and poultry by-products that has been frozen and thawed prior to sale must declare the words "previously frozen" on their principal display panel or on a sign displayed close to the food in letters that are legible and discernible. This includes both prepackaged and non-prepackaged products. When declared on the principal display panel, these words must either be close to the common name of the food in letters that are the same size as those used for the common name or anywhere on the principal display panel in letters that are at least ¼ of an inch (6.4 mm) in height.
If part of one of these foods has been frozen and thawed prior to sale, the words "Made from fresh and frozen portions" or "Made from fresh and frozen (naming the food)" must be declared [B.01.080, FDR].
As per the FDR, "frozen" means preserved by freezing temperatures and does not include any surface freezing that may occur during holding and transportation [B.01.080, FDR].
Edible meat products can be labelled in various ways. This includes labels used in a registered establishment in connection with an edible meat product, bulk containers, breast tags that are applied to poultry carcasses or to the dressed carcass of a domesticated rabbit, or tags other than breast tags that are used to identify meat as edible. All of these labels are subject to the labelling requirements of the MIR. The table below explains the specific labelling requirements depending on the type of packaging.
Note that this table is not an exhaustive list of all of the labelling requirements that apply to meat products. For example, depending on the type of product, an ingredient list or nutrition facts table may also be required.
|Requirement||Labels used in a registered establishment in connection with an edible meat product
|Breast tag applied to a dressed poultry carcass or to the dressed carcass of a domesticated rabbit
|Tags other than breast tags used to identify a meat product as edible
|Common name – Meat and poultry products|
|Net quantity – Meat and poultry products||Except in the case of a meat product prepackaged at a random weight (i.e. catch weight)|
|Operators identity and principal place of business of the registered establishment where the meat product was produced or labelled or the name and address of the person for whom the meat product was produced or labelled, preceded by the words "Prepared for" and "Préparé pour"|
|Meat inspection legend||Except where the bulk container contains a prepackaged meat|
|Durable life date|
|In the case of a dressed carcass from a young chicken or young duck, a portion thereof, that may contain kidneys, the words "May contain kidneys"|
Sections B.01.090, B.01.091, B.14.021 and B.22.012 of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) establish labelling requirements for meat products including poultry meat, to which phosphate salts and/or water have been added. These regulations establish minimum meat protein content and labelling requirements which enable consumers to make price and quality comparisons based on % meat protein declarations. Compositional standards in both the FDR and the MIR, 1990, provide for the addition of phosphate salts and/or water to meats.
Products to which phosphate salts and/or water are incorporated can be grouped into three categories.
Type 1 – Solid cut meat (or poultry meat): A solid cut meat (or poultry meat) is a whole cut of meat or a product consisting of at least 80% of pieces of boneless, skinless meat weighing a minimum of 25 g each, as determined prior to the addition of any other ingredient and further processing activities. This category includes products such as chicken wings, poultry carcasses, steaks, pork tails, tongues, picnics, certain hams, etc. [B.14.020, B.22.011].
Type 2 – Chopped, chopped and formed meat products: This unstandardized category includes products, such as ground roast beef, ground ham and chicken breast (chopped and formed), that do not contain at least 80% of pieces of boneless, skinless meat weighing a minimum of 25 g (no further reference given).
Type 3 – Standardized prepared meat products and meat products which contain a filler: Specific minimum meat protein contents are prescribed in the MIR, 1990 or in Divisions 14 or 22 of the FDR and reproduced in the table Meat Products for which a Minimum Meat Protein Content is Prescribed.
The maximum level of phosphate salts that can be added to meat products is 0.5% of total added phosphate, calculated as sodium phosphate, dibasic. The addition of phosphate salts refers to the addition directly into the meat ingredient(s) by means of injection, pumping, massaging, tumbling, marination or mixing [B.14.021, B.22.012, FDR].
Solid cut meat product (Type 1): Where phosphate salts and/or water are incorporated into a solid cut meat product, the minimum meat protein content of the product must, unless otherwise specified by regulations, be not less than 12% when cooked Footnote 1; or not less than 10% when uncooked [B.14.021, B.22.012, FDR].
Chopped and chopped and formed meat products (Type 2): These products must, unless otherwise specified by regulations, contain not less than 12% meat protein when cooked, or, not less than 10% when uncooked.
Standardized prepared meat products and meat products which contain a filler (Type 3): The minimum protein content for standardized prepared meat products is specified in the MIR (Schedule I), or in Divisions 14 or 22 of the FDR.
Prepared meat products that contain a filler and for which no standard is prescribed in Schedule I, MIR, must contain not less than:
- 9.5% meat product protein and 11 per cent total protein in the case of an uncooked product; or
- 11.5% meat product protein and 13 per cent total protein in the case of a cooked* product [7, MIR].
For more information see the table Meat Products for which a Minimum Meat Protein Content is Prescribed.
The common name of solid cut meat products must reflect the fact that they contain phosphate salts and/or water, unless the product is cured or preserved or a standard is prescribed for it in Schedule I of the MIR, 1990. The use of the term seasoned in conjunction with the product's name has been found to be acceptable when phosphate salts alone or with water are incorporated into a product. Similarly, the use of the term seasoned is also acceptable when spices are added with water. However, if water alone (i.e., water being the only non-meat ingredient) is added, then an expression such as "water added" must be part of the product's common name.
The label of prepackaged Type 1 or 2 products must have a statement of the "% meat protein" as part of the common name of the product on the principal display panel of the package with no intervening material. The type must be at least as legible and conspicuous as any other type on that display panel, and in letters that are a minimum of half the size of the letters used in the rest of the common name of the product. The type height cannot be less than 1.6 mm in height [B.01.090(2)]. Declarations such as "minimum meat protein xx%" / « au moins xx % de protéines de viande » or "meat protein xx%"/ « xx% protéines de viande » are acceptable.
- "Chicken Breast with water added, minimum xx% meat protein": in the case of a chicken breast to which only water has been incorporated
- "Seasoned Chicken Breast, xx% minimum meat protein": in the case of a chicken breast to which water and phosphate salts have been incorporated
The labelling requirement of the minimum meat protein content is not required where phosphate salts and/or water have not been incorporated into the meat ingredient(s) but are present in the food via the addition of a non-meat ingredient (e.g., a sauce, glaze, broth, marinade, etc.).
Note: While suppliers (meat packers or others) are not required to label shipping containers with percent protein declarations, it is their responsibility to provide this information to retailers. Retailers should, therefore, make sure that they get this information so that they can properly label products which they package. A good way to ensure retailers get this information is for the suppliers to make sure it appears on the label of shipping containers. For more information, refer to 7.15 of the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures.
For information on compliance and tolerance of protein declaration, refer to the Compliance Policy for Protein Standards of Meat and Poultry Products Containing Phosphate Salts and/or Water.
Side bacon, Wiltshire bacon, salt beef and pork jowls are exempted from the minimum protein standard and the percent (%) meat protein label declaration [B.01.092, FDR].
Water absorbed by poultry carcasses during the post-slaughter chilling process is not considered to be an ingredient providing the amount of moisture picked up does not exceed the prescribed tolerances. Refer to Retained Water Declaration for Raw Single-Ingredient Meat Products for more information. However, when water is added as an ingredient to previously chilled poultry, the resulting product is subject to the minimum protein standard and the additional labelling requirements mentioned above.
Meat products to which phosphate salts and/or water have been added are not single ingredient foods. Therefore, list of ingredients requirements apply.
Type 1, 2, and 3 meat products that are packaged at the manufacturing level require an ingredient list on the label.
For products packaged at the retail level, an ingredients list is required when a Type 1 or Type 2 uncured meat product with added phosphates and/or water is packaged for retail sale by the retailer. The meat product may be cooked, sliced or cut up. Federally, Type 1 and 2 meat products that are cured do not require an ingredient list when packaged at retail. It is suggested that applicable provincial legislation also be consulted [B.01.008(3)-(6), B.01.091, FDR].
Phosphated Meat Products as Ingredients
When a meat product containing phosphate salts and/or water is used as an ingredient in the preparation of another food, the common name of this second generation meat product (the resulting product) does not have to reflect the fact that phosphate salts and/or water have been incorporated into the meat ingredient, nor does it require the declaration of percent (%) meat protein in the common name. However, the list of ingredients must accurately describe the meat ingredient(s) by their common name (e.g., seasoned chicken breast) and list the components of the ingredients, where required by B.01.009.
The following table provides examples of common names and lists of ingredients for foods that have phosphated meats as ingredients.
|Product Name||Ingredient List|
|Pizza with Smoked Ham||Tomato sauce (tomato, water,...), ham (pork, water, salt, sodium phosphate, sodium nitrite...) etc.|
|Quiche Lorraine||Eggs, ham (pork, water, salt, sodium phosphate, sodium nitrite)|
|Chicken Salad||Lettuce, seasoned chicken (chicken, water, salt...)...|
|Chicken Sandwich||...seasoned chicken (chicken, water, sodium phosphate),...|
|Beef Fajita/Stir Fry Kit||...seasoned beef (beef, water, sodium phosphate),...|
|Glazed Chicken Wings||Chicken, glaze (water, gelatin, sodium phosphate,...) ...|
A nutrition facts table is required on meat and poultry with added phosphates and/or water whether packed at retail or packed at the manufacturer. The FDR exemption for raw single ingredient meats does not apply to meats with phosphates and/or water added. The percent (%) meat protein declaration triggers the nutrition facts table, even if other exemptions apply, such as the less than 200 cm2 available display surface or manufactured on premises. Refer to Other Permitted References to Protein and to Reasons for Losing the Exemption for more information.
The following table summarizes the labelling requirements for foods packaged for retail sale by manufacturers, importers, and by retailers.
|Category of Meat Product||% Meat Protein Content with the Name of the Product||Common Name must include addition of phosphate and/or water||List of Ingredients
[B.01.008(3)-(6), B.01.091, FDR]
|Nutrition Facts table
Solid Cut Meat Products
(e.g., hams, roast)
Non-Solid Cut Meat Products
(i.e., ground, chopped and formed)
(e.g., roast beef, chopped and formed)
Products for which a minimum level of meat protein is prescribed in the MIR (Section 7 or Schedule I) or Division 14 or 22 of the FDR
The following table summarizes the labelling requirements for foods packaged from bulk on retail premises, domestic & imported.
|Category of Meat Product||% Meat Protein Content with the Name of the Product||Common Name must include addition of phosphate and/or water||List of Ingredients||Nutrition Facts Table|
|Type 1 and 2:
Solid Cut Meat Products which are also cured, and may be cooked, sliced, or cut up
(Schedule 1, MIR)
|Type 1 and 2:
Solid Cut Meat Products which are not cured and may be cooked, sliced, or cut up
Products for which a minimum level of meat protein is prescribed in the MIR (Section 7 or Schedule I) or Division 14 or 22 of the FDR
- Footnote 1
Cooked means that the product has been subjected to heat for a time sufficient to produce the characteristics of a cooked meat product with respect to friability, colour, texture and flavour.
Mechanically Tenderized Beef (MTB) refers to uncooked, solid cut beef that has been prepared by mechanical tenderization, i.e., a process where the integrity of the beef surface has been compromised by being pierced by blades, needles or other similar instruments, or the beef has been injected with a marinade or other tenderizing solution [B.01.001(1), FDR].
This includes all cuts of MTB regardless of thickness, which includes veal and cubed steaks (e.g., fast fry/minute steaks) in either fresh or frozen form.
This does not include:
- other species of meat besides beef (i.e. pork and poultry);
- ground beef or any uncooked beef that has been subject to a comminution process such as grinding, chopping, flaking, mincing, fine texturing and/or mechanical separation.
Prepackaged or non-prepackaged MTB that is offered or exposed for sale must be identified as mechanically tenderized. The label must include the following information (as shown exactly in quotations) in both English and French unless a bilingual labelling exemption applies to the product [B.14.022, FDR]:
- Identification of the food as "mechanically tenderized";
- Safe cooking instructions stating: "Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 63°C (145°F)";
- In the case of steak, an additional safe cooking instruction to help achieve a consistent temperature throughout: "Turn steak over at least twice during cooking".
Note: The above requirements do not apply to advertisements, or to menu labelling in any food service establishment (e.g., restaurants, school and hospital cafeterias, catering operations, etc.).
Manner of Declaring
The term "mechanically tenderized" must appear on the principal display panel (definition) in type that is as legible and prominent as the type used for the common name. "Mechanically tenderized" may be displayed as part of the common name itself.
All cooking instruction statement(s), including the additional cooking instruction specific to steak, if applicable, must be present on the principal display panel in type at least as legible and prominent as that of any other information other than the common name, such as mandatory information and claims.
The intent of this requirement is to ensure that the cooking instructions will be legible and noticed by the purchaser or consumer. If cooking instructions are clearly legible, discernible and unobstructed by other information, it is likely that the CFIA would consider this requirement to be met. For more information on legibility requirements, please refer to Legibility and Location of Labelling Information.
Note: "Prominent" type refers to a combination of factors such as placement, contrast, colour, type size and type weight. The term "mechanically tenderized" does not necessarily have to be the same size as the common name for compliance with this statement if other factors compensate for legibility, e.g., bolding.
For MTB that is not prepackaged when offered or exposed for sale, "mechanically tenderized" must appear on a label associated with the product such as an in-store sign adjacent to the food; however, the statement must then appear on the principal display panel once the meat has been packaged to give to the consumer.
Cooking instructions are not required for MTB that is not prepackaged when offered or exposed for sale; however, safe cooking instructions are required on the principal display panel once the meat has been packaged to give to the consumer.
Note: It is acceptable for all three requirements to appear on one label, which can then be applied to all types of MTB products. Therefore, it would be considered acceptable for an MTB product that is not a steak to be labelled with the additional cooking instruction "turn steak over at least twice during cooking".
The use of a sticker on the principal display panel of a label is an acceptable way to present the MTB labelling requirements. If it is not possible to meet the requirements using a scale label or other printed label for a product (e.g., the text does not fit on the label, bolding is not an option, etc.), a sticker could be used.
Examples of acceptable MTB labels can be found in section 5.0 of Heath Canada's Guidance on Mandatory Labelling for Mechanically Tenderized Beef.
The figures below represent examples of unacceptable MTB labels. Please note that many additional variations of unacceptable labels are possible.
For further information on MTB labelling, please refer to Health Canada's Guidance on Mandatory Labelling for Mechanically Tenderized Beef.
Meat and poultry product extenders are subject to compositional requirements under the FDR with respect to protein, vitamin and mineral nutrient content [B.14.073, B.22.027, FDR]. These products are used to extend various meat or poultry mixtures to make products such as fresh sausage, cooked sausage, meat loaves, luncheon meats, etc.
Extended meat and poultry products must have approximately the same nutrient content as the product being extended [B.14.074 – B.14.079, B.22.028, FDR]. This is accomplished via the mandatory enrichment of the extender. For example, pork sausage extended with soy has, on a weight basis, approximately the same nutritive value as pork sausage that has not been extended.
Where a beef, veal, pork or lamb carcass or a portion weighing over seven kilograms is advertised for sale, the advertisement must include an indication of the grade assigned to the carcass by a Canadian or foreign grading authority. If no grade has been assigned, the advertisement must indicate that the carcass has not been graded.
When the same meat advertisement states a selling price, the advertisements must include the words "price per kilogram is based on carcass weight before cutting, boning and trimming" or the words "price per kilogram is based on the weight of the meat after cutting, boning and trimming", whichever words are applicable.
If, in addition to the selling price, a charge is payable for cutting, boning, trimming, wrapping or freezing the carcass or portion thereof, the advertisement must indicate the amount of the additional charge and, where the additional charge is payable on a price per unit weight basis, whether the additional charge is based on the weight of the carcass or portion thereof before or after the carcass has been cut, boned and trimmed.
The above information must be located immediately adjacent to the selling price without any intervening written, printed or graphic matter [B.14.018, B.14.019, FDR].
All acceptable Nutrient Content Claims related to fat are listed in the Summary Table of Fat Claims. Claims such as "Contains not more than x% fat" or "Contains less than x% fat" are not acceptable. However, claim such as "Contains less than (number) g of fat per serving" could be acceptable if the food and its label meet the requirements listed in Column # 2 and # 3 of the above mentioned table.
The conditions and permitted foods for using the claims "lean" and "extra lean" can be found in items i) and j) of the Summary Table of Fat Claims.
Prepared foods such as meat pie, lasagna, pizza, meat/poultry/fish sauces or pastes are not eligible to make these claims.
Note: It is not permitted to label the product "Lean (name of the meat cut or prepared meat product)" with the claim "92% fat free" (instead of "contains 8% fat"). Furthermore, labels with claims such as "ABC packers lean or extra lean ham" are not considered acceptable.
The above definitions of "lean" and "extra lean" do not apply to the ground meat or ground poultry which are subject to the standards for ground meats as defined in Schedule I of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990. For more information, refer to Common Name – Meat and Poultry Products.
Protein Claims outlines the conditions for making a protein claim.
The percent (%) meat protein declaration is required as part of the common name for meat and poultry products with added phosphate salts and/or water. For more information, please refer to Phosphated Meats and Meat Products.
The term "fresh" gives the impression that the food has not been processed or preserved in any way. The claim "fresh (naming the food)" should therefore be used to describe a food that is not canned, cured, dehydrated, frozen or otherwise processed or preserved. The following types of ingredients are eligible to use fresh claims:
- Meats, including poultry products that have not been treated by any means, other than by refrigeration, vacuum packaging or modified atmosphere packaging to ensure their preservation, may be called "fresh".
- "Fresh sausage" made with frozen meat may be described as "fresh" [Schedule 1, MIR].
Refer to Fresh Claims for more information.
For information on method of production or animal production claims, refer to Method of Production.
The use of the term "air-chilled" is permitted for poultry products that are refrigerated in a way to show that there is no moisture gain as a result of post evisceration washing, chilling and drainage. This method has to be implemented as a control program by the establishment using it.
Claims such as "no water added during the chilling process" are permitted if the poultry is air chilled and the Operator demonstrates through a quality control program and data that there is no more than 0.5% of water retained (to account for the scale variability) post evisceration [7.7, Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures].
No word or phrase set out in column I of an item of the table below on processing and labelling requirements for meat products can be shown on the label of a meat product unless the meat product meets the requirements set out in column II [94(6), MIR].
Word or Phrase
||Having dry heat applied without direct contact with a flame for a time sufficient to produce the characteristics of a baked or roasted meat product, such as a brown crust on the surface, rendering out-of-surface fat or caramelization of sugar. The meat product must be ready-to-eat.|
|2.||"Barbecued"||Cooked with seasoning. The meat product must be ready-to-eat.|
||Injected with meat broth containing at least 15% solid matter, butter or edible fats or oils that are of vegetable origin, up to a maximum of 3%.|
|4.||"Breaded"||Coated with a combination of batter and bread or cracker crumbs.|
||Subjected to heat for a time sufficient to produce the characteristics of a cooked meat product in respect of friability, colour, texture and flavour. The meat product must be ready-to-eat.|
||Dehydrated. The meat product must be ready-to-eat.|
|8.||"Freeze-dried"||Dehydrated by a process of freeze drying.|
|9.||"Jellied"||Gelling agent added at more than 0.25%.|
|10.||"Rolled"||Boned, rolled and tied.|
|11.||"Semi-boneless"||At least 45% deboned.|
|13.||"Smoked"||Treated with smoke as prescribed by the Food and Drug Regulations.|
||Stuffed with any or all of the following ingredients: bread, grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, or like substances or with a prepared meat product, and may include seasoning, animal or vegetable fat.|
|15.||"With giblets"||Containing a liver, a heart or a gizzard or any combination of them from the same species.|
|16.||"With natural juices"||Packaged in a package containing the juices generated by the cooking of the meat product.|
[MIR Schedule I; FDR, Divisions 14 and 22]
The following table provides the minimum meat protein level for specific products. Note that Column 1 and 2 repeat across the page.
Minimum Meat Product Protein Footnote 2
|Meat Footnote 3 Pattie||15% (uncooked)|
Meat Footnote 3 Balls
Meat Footnote 3 Burger
Meat Footnote 3 Chopette
Meat Footnote 3 Croquette
Meat Footnote 3 Cutlette
Meat Footnote 3 Steakette
Meat Footnote 3 Balls
Meat Footnote 3 Burger
Meat Footnote 3 Chopette
Meat Footnote 3 Croquette
Meat Footnote 3 Cutlette
Meat Footnote 3 Steakette
|Flakes of Meat Footnote 3||15%|
|Sausage (ready to eat)
|Corned Beef||21% when enclosed in a hermetically sealed container|
|Meat Footnote 3 Roll||15%|
|Blood and Tongue Sausage||9.5%|
|Preserved Sausage or (if sodium or potassium nitrite or both, or sodium erythorbate or erythorbic acid are added)
|Potted Meat Footnote 3
Meat Footnote 3 Paste
Meat Footnote 3 Spread
Meat Footnote 3 Paté
Paté de Foie
|Meat Footnote 3 Loaf
Meat Footnote 3 Lunch
Luncheon Meat Footnote 3
Compliance Policy for Protein Standards of Meat and Poultry Products Containing Phosphate Salts and/or Water
Tolerances for declarations of energy and nutrients in the Nutrition Facts table are described in the Compliance Test.
The following compliance policy applies to:
- the minimum meat protein standards for meat and poultry [MIR, 1990],
- meat and poultry products to which phosphate salts or water have been added [B.14.021, B.22.012, FDR], and
- the labelling requirements for meat and poultry products to which phosphate salts and/or water have been added, [B.01.090, B01.091, FDR].
See Declaration of the Minimum Meat Protein Content as Part of the Common Name for more details on labelling requirements and minimum protein levels.
The purpose of the policy is to provide information on sampling plans and tolerances to help in the accurate labelling of meat products with added phosphate salts and/or water.
For the purpose of this section, lot and sample have been defined as follows:
A lot is a collection of primary containers or units of the same size, type and style produced under conditions as uniform as possible, with a common container code or marking or, if not code or marking, a day's production. In no case would more than a day's production be considered a lot.
A sample is the unit of analysis. It shall consist of five units selected randomly from a lot; the units may be composited and analyzed as a single sample, or may be analyzed individually and the results averaged.
Note: Bones, covering pork rind or a visible fat layer (i.e. subcutaneous fat or fat between the muscles) shall not be included in a sample used to determine meat protein content for the purpose of the minimum meat protein content [B. 14.021, B.22.012, FDR]. It is also not included in the main panel declaration of protein content [B.01.090, FDR].
A sample size of five consumer units is used in all cases. The sampling plan provides the option of either a composite sample or the average of individual samples. Either method will give values which are representative of the lot. Analysis of individual samples, however, will permit calculation of the nutrient variability from container to container.
The production lot should be properly sampled and analyzed by trained staff using recognized methods of measurement such as Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) methods Footnote 4. The analyst may determine how best to collect and analyze products in order to ensure accuracy of the declared values.
Tolerances for protein/nutrient content are set at these levels:
- minimum meat protein content – equal to requirement
- main panel per cent meat protein – 10 percent from label value
For the front panel statement of the % meat protein content as part of the common name, a 10% tolerance from label value is applied where the declaration is above the minimum level. This level balances the need for reliable values to allow consumers to make informed choices with the need for a technically achievable range. There may be significant variability in the protein content of meat and poultry products containing added phosphate or water as a result of variabilities in food manufacturing and processing systems and the inherent variability of protein in the food.
Minimum Meat Protein Standard [MIR, 1990; B.14.021, B.22.012, FDR]
The lot is deemed to be out of compliance when the protein content of the sample (composite or mean) is less than the minimum meat protein requirement, or when a single unit is less than 90 percent of the minimum.
Percent (%) Meat Protein Declaration (main panel as part of common name [B.01.090, FDR])
Meat protein content levels that are greater than the amount declared are acceptable, provided they are within good manufacturing practices.
- Footnote 4
Official methods of analysis of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists, 16th Edition, AOAC, Arlington, Virginia 22209, U.S.A.
Simulated meat and simulated poultry products do not contain any meat or poultry, but have the physical and nutritive characteristics of meat or poultry.
Consumers must not be misled as to the true nature of these products. Therefore, the complete common name "simulated (naming the meat or poultry)" must appear on labels and in advertisements for these products [B.01.100(1), FDR].
Simulated or Flavoured Bacon Bits
The use of the common name "simulated bacon bits" requires that the product be nutritionally equivalent to real bits of bacon. The product must meet the compositional requirements of section B.14.090 of the Food and Drug Regulations. The use of the common name "bacon flavoured bits", however, does not imply that the product simulates bacon, only that it is bacon flavoured. In this case, the requirement for nutritional equivalence and the compositional requirements of B.14.090 of the Food and Drug Regulations do not apply.
Depending on the type of meat simulated, the applicable phrase "contains no meat" or "contains no poultry" is also required on the principal display panel of the label, in close proximity to the common name and in letters of at least the same size and prominence as those used for the remainder of the common name of the product [B.01.100, FDR].
When Used as an Ingredient
When simulated meat is used as an ingredient of another food, such as a soup, the declaration "contains no meat" is not required on the label [B.01.100(4)(a), FDR]. Additionally, any picture or vignettes on the packaging of the final food must not suggest that meat is present.
The FDR specifies the amounts of vitamins and mineral nutrients that must be added to simulated meat and poultry products [B.14.085 – B.14.088, B.22.029, FDR]. These added vitamins and minerals must then be declared as a percent daily value per serving of stated size in the Nutrition Facts table [B.01.402(7), table to B.01.402, item 14, FDR]. Refer to the Information Within the Nutrition Facts Table for more information.
Sections B.14.085 to B.14.090 include minimum protein rating requirements for simulated meat products. For example, a simulated meat product that resembles ground beef must have a protein rating of not less than 40. If the prepackaged product as offered for sale is raw and frozen, but cooked before being consumed, the minimum protein rating requirement of 40 would apply to the product as sold (not after it is prepared by the consumer). In addition, these regulations must be respected after a product is rehydrated. This would apply to the food immediately following rehydration (i.e. prior to cooking or consumption).
A container not intended for sale by a retailer to a consumer and includes a shipping container [2, MIR].
A meat product to which a meat product extender has been added [2, MIR; B.01.001, FDR].
A poultry product to which a poultry product extender has been added [2, MIR; B.01.001, FDR].
Gelatin, agar and carrageenan [2, MIR; B.01.001, FDR].
The edible part of a carcass that is the muscle associated with the skeleton, tongue, diaphragm, heart, gizzard or mammalian oesophagus, with or without accompanying and overlying fat, together with those parts of the bones, skin, sinews, nerves, blood vessels and other tissues that normally accompany the muscle and are not ordinarily removed in dressing a carcass, but does not include the muscle associated with the lips, snout, scalp or ears, mechanically separated meat or meat to which an ingredient other than meat has been added.
Edible blood, an edible organ or edible tissue that was derived from the carcass of a food animal, but does not include meat or mechanically separated meat.
Meat, meat by-product, prepared meat or prepared meat by-product [2, MIR; B.01.001, FDR].
A food that is a source of protein and that is represented as being for the purpose of extending meat products [2, MIR; B.01.001, FDR].
Poultry meat, prepared poultry meat, poultry meat by-product or prepared poultry meat by-product [2, MIR; B.01.001, FDR].
A food that is a source of protein and that is represented as being for the purpose of extending poultry products [2, MIR; B.01.001, FDR].
An edible meat product consisting of either a solid piece of meat or containing at least 80% of boneless skinless meat in pieces weighing 25 g or more [B.14.020, FDR].
Any food that does not contain any meat product, poultry product or fish product but that has the appearance of a meat product [2, MIR; B.01.001, FDR].
Any food that does not contain any poultry product, meat product or fish product but that has the appearance of a poultry product [2, MIR; B.01.001, FDR].
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