Labelling Requirements for Meat and Poultry Products
Mechanically Tenderized Beef

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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.

Requirements

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]:

  1. Identification of the food as "mechanically tenderized";
  2. Safe cooking instructions stating: "Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 63°C (145°F)";
  3. 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

Prepackaged Products

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.

Non-prepackaged Products

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.

Figure 1 - this is an example of a non-compliant mechanically tenderized beef label. Description follows.
Figure 1 - Description for non-compliant mechanically tenderized beef label

The common name is clearly more prominent than the "mechanically tenderized' statement as it is a larger type size and in bold; therefore, the label is unacceptable.

The safe cooking instructions are acceptable as they are as legible and as prominent as other information on the label.

Figure 2 - this is an example of a non-compliant mechanically tenderized beef label. Description follows.
Figure 2 - Description for non-compliant mechanically tenderized beef label

The common name is more prominent than the "mechanically tenderized' statement as it is a larger type size; therefore, the label is unacceptable.

The safe cooking instructions are acceptable as they are as legible and as prominent as other information on the label.

Figure 3 - this is an example of a non-compliant mechanically tenderized beef label. Description follows.
Figure 3 - Description for non-compliant mechanically tenderized beef label

Although the common name and "mechanically tenderized" statement are the same type size, the bolding of the common name makes it more prominent on the label; therefore, the label is unacceptable. If the "mechanically tenderized" statement was also bolded, this label would be considered compliant with the type requirements for the "mechanically tenderized" statement.

The safe cooking instructions are acceptable as they are as legible and as prominent as other information on the label.

Additional Guidance

For further information on MTB labelling, please refer to Health Canada's Guidance on Mandatory Labelling for Mechanically Tenderized Beef.

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