Annex E: Verification of Label Compliance for Imported Meat Products
1. Introduction and Legal Basis
This annex of Chapter 10 of the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures (MOP) provides Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspectors with guidelines on the requirements and inspection procedures to evaluate the labelling compliance of imported meat products.
Paragraph 9.(1)(d), Meat Inspection Act stipulates that no person shall import a meat product into Canada unless it is packaged and labelled in the manner prescribed.
Section 123 of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 (MIR) prescribes the standards and labelling requirements for a meat product imported into Canada. These are the standards and labelling requirements to which a meat product would have to conform if it were produced in a registered establishment in Canada, except that;
- with respect to edible meat product, no code shall be used to replace the establishment registration number, permanently marked on a hermetically sealed container in which the meat product is packaged;
- instead of the Canadian inspection legend, the inspection mark of the government of the country of origin shall be used; and
- the words "Product of" and "Produit de" followed by the name of the country of origin shall be marked in conspicuous manner in close proximity to the identity of the meat product.
Sections 89 to 120 and paragraph 60(d) of the MIR prescribe requirements for packaging and labelling of meat products in registered establishments. These regulated requirements are further interpreted in Chapter 7 of the MOP.
Other Canadian legislation that deals with labelling of meat products are:
The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations.
The Food and Drugs Act and Regulations.
The Canada Agricultural Products Act and Regulations.
2. Registration of Labels and Recipes of Imported Meat Products
In accordance with Section 110 of the MIR all products requiring label and recipe registration shall be registered by the CFIA Label and Recipe Registration Unit (LRRU). The meat inspection regulations define "recipe" in reference to a meat product to mean:
- the ingredients of the meat product and the components of the ingredients thereof, including food additives;
- the proportions of those ingredients and components; and
- the method of manufacture and the results of any test conducted on the meat product.
The exporter is responsible for registration of labels and recipes prior to export. The information supplied by the exporter will be reviewed for compliance to Canadian food and labelling regulations. The exporter will be provided with notification of the registration or changes required.
Label and recipe registrations for imported products are valid for ten (10) years.
2.1 Submission of Labels and Recipes for Registration
All meat products requiring label and recipe registration are submitted using the form CFIA/ACIA 1478 and forwarded with the applicable fees to:
Label and Recipe Registration Unit
Ottawa, Ontario K1A OY9
For more information on the registration of labels and recipes and applicable fees refer to Chapter 7 of the MOP.
2.2 Meat Products Requiring Registration of Labels with the CFIA.
The following products must be registered with the CFIA LRRU, prior to export to Canada. Registration numbers of the labels must be entered on the Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC), next to the appropriate product description:
- All labels of the immediate containers of prepared meat products. The MIR provide the following definition: "Prepared" means, in respect of an edible meat product, a meat product that has been cooked or dehydrated or to which has been added any substance other than meat, a meat by-product or mechanically separated meat;
- All foreign labels of the immediate container of pre-packaged single ingredient, non-prepared meat products. The MIR provide the following definition: "Pre-packaged" means, in respect of an edible meat product, packaged in a container in the manner in which it is ordinarily sold to or used or purchased by a consumer without being repackaged; and,
- All labels with animal production and raising claims.
All foreign labels with a claim in regard to the term "organic" and similar statements (e.g.: "raised without hormones", "raised without antibiotics", "free range"), must be evaluated by the CFIA LRRU prior to export. The labels will be registered only if the claims can be substantiated with a production protocol.
The following claims are generally not permitted: natural (naturally raised and naturally grown), antibiotic free, hormone free, residue free, drug free, chemical free, and organically raised.
2.3 Meat Products Which Do Not Require Registration of Labels
The following meat products do not require label registration but are required to meet all other applicable Canadian legislation:
- All meat products exempt under paragraph 3.(1) of the MIR;
- Salted kosher meat shipped in bulk (not pre-packaged);
- Natural salted animal intestinal casings shipped in bulk (not pre-packaged);
- Labels on shipping containers for fully labelled pre-packaged meat products;
- Labels on shipping containers for single ingredient (contain only meat), not prepared, meat products shipped in bulk (not pre-packaged);
- Labels for containers of imported inedible meat products;
- Labels for containers of prepared pet foods; and,
- Labels for meat products entering Canada as a "Waiver" (refer to Annex I-1) or for direct delivery to cruise ships in Canadian ports (Refer to Annex G).
3. Verification of Registered Labels
A check should be made that imported prepared and/or pre-packaged meat products presented for inspection have labels that are registered. A label registration number must be present on the OMIC for each type of product requiring registration.
The label on the immediate product container must be in compliance with Canadian labelling requirements and the product description on the label must be consistent with the product description on the certificate.
The label and recipe registration process is designed to ensure pre-packaged products are in compliance with all pertinent Canadian labelling requirements. Chapter 7 of the MOP should be consulted for detailed information on mandatory requirements of labels which require registration. If an inspector suspects a registered label is not in compliance refer to section 7 for compliance action.
4. Verification of Meat Product Labels Not Requiring Registration
All shipping containers of pre-packaged products for retail sale, and immediate containers of bulk single ingredient meat products do not require label registration prior to export to Canada. Inspectors shall verify that these containers are in compliance with Canada's labelling requirements. Products certified and shipped as waivers or as unmarked are permitted to have labels that do not comply with Canadian mandatory labelling requirements (refer to Annex I-1 and Annex I-2 of this chapter).
4.1 Labelling Requirements for Containers Not Requiring Label Registration
The following provides a summary of the label information to be verified on containers not requiring label registration:
- Product description;
- The net quantity;
- The manufacturer's name and address;
- The foreign meat inspection legend;
- Storage instructions;
- Young chicken or ducks that may contain kidneys, the words "May contain kidneys";
- Grade designation of beef or poultry;
- Production date or identification code;
- The country of origin; and,
- Shipping Mark or Export Stamp.
See sections 5.1 to 5.10 for further information on the above requirements.
4.2 Language Requirements of Labels Not Requiring Registration
The labels of non retail containers (bulk shipping containers) are exempt from bilingual labelling requirements as per Section 97(2) of the MIR. They must be labelled in one of Canada's official languages.
4.3 Procedures for Labelling of Shipping or Bulk Cartons not Requiring Label Registration
4.3.1 For shipping containers of pre-packaged products, it is a good practice for the producer to place a copy of the inner package label on the outside of the shipping container.
4.3.2 All information must be printed with the following exceptions:
- the product description may be stencilled, applied by means of a pressure sensitive label, applied by on-line printing or indicated by use of a check off system; and,
- the weight may be handwritten in a legible manner when meat products are shipped in non standardized weights (catch weights).
4.3.3 The label shall be placed on the main display panel and must be visible to the inspector when products are staged for inspection.
5. Further Information Regarding Labelling of Shipping or Bulk Containers Exempt from Registration
The following section further describes the labelling requirements for containers of meat products which do not require prior label registration. References to pertinent sections of the MIR are provided.
5.1 Product Descriptions: MIR 94(1)(b)(i)
Single ingredient meat and poultry cuts shall be described using the nomenclature of the Canadian Meat Cuts Manual, or a generic description indicating whether the meat is boneless and its species.
See section 6.1 of this annex for product description requirements of ground meats.
The product description of the meat product on the shipping or bulk container must be the same as the product description on the OMIC. For example, "Bone-in Pork Leg Butt Portion" on the container and "Bone-in Pork Leg Butt Portion" on the OMIC; "Ungraded Boneless Beef" on the container and "Ungraded Boneless Beef" on the OMIC. Abbreviations and/or codes are not acceptable as product descriptions for use on shipping containers of imported meat products. The terms "boneless" or "bone-in" (whichever is applicable) must be included with the product description on the OMIC and shipping container labels of single ingredient meat cuts.
Where a shipping container contains prepackaged single ingredient meat products (labels registered), the qualifying term "Bone-in" is not required on the registered retail label.
5.2 Net Quantity
Net quantity is required to be in metric units MIR 102 (1) and except as noted in the MIR 103 (2) net quantity is to be shown as a weight.
The words "net weight" and "net volume" are not required to describe net quantity declarations as it is assumed that the quantities are "net". However, there is no objection to the use of the words "net weight", "net contents" or their abbreviations.
5.3 Name and Address: MIR 94(1)(b)(iii)
The name and address of the company that produced or labelled the meat product is required. When a product has been produced or labelled for another company, the name and address will be preceded by the words "Prepared for" or "Préparé pour".
5.4 Meat Inspection Legend
The foreign equivalent of the meat inspection legend is required as per the MIR 123(c). The establishment number does not have to appear as part of the legend. MIR section 93(3)(c) permits the Est # to be clearly marked elsewhere on the principle display panel (e.g.: EST 999). This allows companies with several establishments to interchange cartons.
5.5 Storage Instructions: MIR 94(1)(b)(vi)
The storage instructions must be consistent with the state of the product (refrigerated or frozen). Some countries requirements are not as restrictive and carton labelling will show "keep refrigerated or frozen". Such labelling is not acceptable and the label must be corrected or the lot refused entry.
5.6 May Contain Kidneys: MIR 94(1)(b)(vii)
This requirement is only applicable to carcasses or appropriate portions of young chickens or young ducks that may contain kidneys.
5.7 Grade Designation
This requirement is only applicable to beef portions and graded poultry.
5.8 Production Date or Identification Code: MIR 95(3)
A product date or a code representing the production date is required for product traceability purposes.
5.9 Country of Origin
The label must state "Product of" and "Produit de" followed by the name of the country of origin, in a conspicuous manner, in close proximity to the common name as per section 123 (d) of the MIR.
5.10 Shipping Mark or Export Stamp: See Chapter 10, Annex D.
6. Additional Labelling Requirements
6.1 Ground meat products: MIR Schedule 1.
Unless pre-packaged or mixed with other ingredients (prepared), ground meats are exempt from label and recipe registration. Imported ground meat into Canada must be labelled in accordance with the MIR Schedule 1. The required product descriptions are Regular Ground Meat, Medium Ground Meat, Lean Ground Meat or Extra Lean Ground Meat. The species name replaces the word meat. Terms such as finely ground, extra fine are not acceptable.
6.1.1 Pre-packaged ground meat products are subject to the Nutritional Labelling requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) B.01.401(3)(d). Bulk shipments of ground beef do not have to be labelled with the nutritional information, however, it must accompany the product when delivered to the purchaser (FDR B.01.404(2).
6.2 In accordance with Nutrition Labelling, Nutrient Content Claims and Health Claims requirements in the Food and Drug Regulations, pre-packaged foods with some exceptions must carry a Nutrition Facts table. The Regulations also set out requirements for nutrient content claims and health claims. Links to more information on nutritional information can be found at the CFIA Web site.
6.3 Except as mentioned in section 2.3 of this annex, any product containing other ingredients including added water with or without phosphates or salts are considered prepared meat products and subject to prior label approval. If an inspector suspects a meat product may include another ingredient and the label is not registered or is incorrect, they should contact their Area import or labelling specialist.
6.4 Pre-packaged meat products with pictures (vignette) of the meat product on the label could be misleading. The amount of meat product in the container might be considerably less than the amount appearing in the vignette. If an inspector considers a label misleading, the Area labelling specialist should be consulted.
6.5 In the case of hermetically sealed, thermally processed meat products, such as canned products or retortable pouches, the name of the country of origin or a recognized code for that country, the establishment number, the type of product and the code for production date must be permanently marked on the container. This information may be embossed, or lithographed (permanently printed) as part of the label information. Where removable labels, including glued labels, are used, the required permanent information must also be present and visible for inspection.
If an inspector discovers an imported meat product is improperly labelled at a storage facility, or registered establishment, regardless of whether or not it has passed inspection, they are to detain the lot and refuse entry (MIR, 123). The importer can be given the opportunity to correct a shipping container label if it is an item that can be corrected. Refer to section 7.3 of this annex.
If the label infraction is discovered at a CFIA border or blitz inspection, the lot will be refused entry.
7.1 Import Meat Products with Registered Labels
Prepared meat products and all pre-packaged meat products for direct sale to consumers require the CFIA registered labels. Imported products without label registration numbers on the OMIC will be refused entry unless a label approval exists for the product and a replacement OMIC can be obtained.
If the inspector finds a registered label is not in compliance with Canadian requirements the following action should be taken:
- Detain the lot until confirmation of the label can be made;
- Contact the importer of record and request a faxed copy of the form CFIA/ACIA 1478 (Request for registration labels, markings and containers) with the CFIA stamped approved label or a stamped proof of the approved label for comparison with the label on the meat product;
- If the approved label does not match the product label, the lot should be refused and ordered to be removed from Canada;
- If the approval matches, the lot should be accepted providing all mandatory labelling requirements are met; and,
- If there is a suspicion that the label registration approval has one or more mistakes and the mandatory information is not correct, contact your Area Program Specialist responsible for labels for decision on release of the product.
7.2 Imported Meat Products with Labels Exempted from Registration
Imported meat products exempted from label registration that are not in compliance with Canadian labelling requirements will be refused entry unless the product label can be brought into compliance (Refer to section 7.3).
At the request of the importer, the inspector can authorize correction of the following minor labelling deficiencies on shipping containers. Product may not be released from the inspection facility prior to satisfactory inspection of the re-labelled product if:
- Country of Origin is missing.
A stamp or sticker can be used to apply the country of origin.
- Weights not in metric units.
Imperial weights can be converted to metric weights. The metric weight may be handwritten on the label, or applied by a sticker or stamp. The imperial weight may remain on the label. This is the only correction allowed using handwriting.
- Storage instructions are incorrect.
Incorrect storage instructions may be obliterated and the correct storage instruction applied by means of a stamp or sticker. Shipping cartons must be labelled in a consistent manner with immediate product containers.
- For all other labelling non compliance consult with your Area import specialist prior to permitting re-labelling of product. In some cases, deficiencies in label information may not be verifiable without re-certification of the product by the foreign competent authority.
- Date modified: