Labelling Requirements for Meat and Poultry Products
Common Name – Meat and Poultry Products

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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.

Modified Standardized Common Names for Meat and Poultry Products

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".

Declaration of Species

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.

Jellied Prepared Meat

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].

Meat and Poultry Products With Added Phosphate Salts and or Water

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.

Retained Water Declaration for Raw Single-Ingredient 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.

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