Chapter 7 – Packaging and labelling
7.12 Labelling of shipping containers

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(1) General

All of the information required by the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 to be placed on a shipping container may be pre-printed, applied by on-line printing or applied by means of a printed pressure-sensitive label. Only the weight may be handwritten (handwritten product description is not acceptable) and it is also permitted to apply the product name (only) by means of a check-off system, stamping or stencilling.

Regardless of the mechanism used for providing information on a shipping container, certain criteria must be met in order for the container to be considered acceptable for movement out of a registered establishment:

  1. The required information shall be grouped together and must be positioned on the container in a manner that allows it to be easily legible by any person inspecting the exterior of the container under normal conditions of sale or use.
  2. The required information must be shown using a font style and size to be easily legible. For the purposes of this chapter, this means readable for a normal-sighted person from an arm's length distance. The size and characteristics of the Meat Inspection Legend shall meet the requirements outlined in Section 93 of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990.
  3. The required information must be shown in a colour of type that provides significant contrast between the printed information and the background by virtue of tint and/or colour.

(2) Marking of shipping containers for beef hearts

Shipping containers, Canadian and foreign, for beef hearts shall bear the product description in one of the following manners in either English or French or both:

  1. Beef Hearts Bone In;
  2. Beef Hearts Bone Removed; or
  3. Beef Hearts
    • checkbox Bone In
    • checkbox Bone Removed.

(3) Beef grades – marking requirements

Section 13 of the Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations specifies the grade labelling requirements for beef products shipped from registered establishments or imported into Canada. Specifically, it requires that a beef carcass or a portion thereof, including a sub-primal cut, not be imported or shipped from a registered establishment, unless:

  1. The beef is packed in a container or bulk container and that container or bulk container is marked with the grade name of the product or in the case of ungraded beef with the words "ungraded beef". It should be noted that for Canadian products the grade category or the statement "ungraded beef" is not required on the shipping container of fully labelled prepackaged beef cuts (portions) when the grade statement appears on the label of the prepackaged meat product. As a reminder, the label of a prepackaged meat product bears all the markings required under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations in order to be sold directly to the Consumer (see 7.15 (1)).
  2. The beef is not packed in a container or bulk container and the beef is either graded and marked as required by the Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations (or as required by the country of origin in the case of imported beef) or treated as ungraded. The documentation that accompanies the meat product shall indicate the grade name or indicate that it is ungraded beef.

Note: Documentation for imported beef refers to the Official Meat Inspection Certificate. Documentation for domestic beef may be the invoice or equivalent.

In the case of imported beef, the Canadian grade equivalent may also be shown on the container or bulk container when such a grade equivalency has been agreed upon.

The mixing in a container or bulk container of beef cuts of different grades is permitted as follows:

  1. Canadian beef graded Canada A, Canada AA and Canada AAA may be mixed provided the container is marked with a single grade name corresponding to the lowest grade quality marbling level and the expression "or higher" or "ou plus" (French equivalent) (e.g. "Canada A or higher"). The use of this single grade name identification employing the expression "or higher" implies that there may be some meat cuts derived from higher grades of beef in a container so marked.
  2. Canadian beef graded any of the Canada B or Canada D grades or the Canada E grade may be mixed provided the specific grade names of the product are marked on the container. Example: "Canada B2/B3/D3/E".
  3. Canadian beef graded in the A grades shall not be mixed with non A grade product or ungraded product and be identified by grade name (e.g. the marking of a container "Canada A/AA/B2" is not permitted).
  4. Containers of ungraded product must be marked with the words "ungraded beef". Should establishments wish to mix graded and ungraded product, the containers must be marked as ungraded. Establishments may also have the option of marking containers of graded beef as ungraded.
  5. Imported beef may also be mixed for different grades provided the specific grade names for the product are marked on the container.

Note: The operator of a registered establishment is responsible for the accuracy of the grade labelling. When repackaging cuts that originate from a mixed-grade container, these cuts may be marked with a specific grade only if each original cut was individually marked with a grade and the grade can be verified. Example: A mixed-grade container marked "Canada B2/B3/D3/E" contains mixed cuts on which the grade B2 or B3 or D3 or E has been directly applied by the means of a stamp or a sealed bag. In this case, the grade of a cut is easily identified and verifiable. Therefore the derived cuts can be marked accordingly with the grade "Canada B2" or "Canada B3" or "Canada D3" or "Canada E".

(4) Product descriptions for meat cuts on shipping containers

(i) Red meat codes

The following options for product descriptions on shipping containers for domestic and imported red meat cuts may be used:

  1. full product description: names of the meat cuts in the Lexicon produced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency must be used; or
  2. a generic description as "Bone-in" or "Boneless" species meat. In this case, a code from the list below may be used to designate the appropriate cut. The code designation is to be displayed on the main panel and/or the end panel of the shipping container.

The standard codes on the list for red meat cuts are the ones that have been agreed upon between the Canadian Meat Council and the Canadian Meat Importer's Association. These codes are also used by the major meat exporting countries, i.e. Australia, New Zealand and the USA. The updating of the list of codes and the enforcement of its use is the responsibility of industry and not that of the inspection personnel.

For import shipments, the product description on the foreign meat inspection certificate must be the same as the one used on the containers (i.e. Boneless Beef on the carton and Boneless Beef on the certificate; or Boneless Beef Sirloin Tip on the carton and Boneless Beef Sirloin Tip on the certificate).

Codes for Boneless and Bone-In Cuts – Beef
Beef Cuts Code
Top sirloin butts TRI
Clods CLO
Shank meat SHK
Flanks FL
Eye rounds EY
Insides INS
Outsides OUT
Knuckles KNK
Chucks CHU
Trimmings TRMG
Striploins (Boneless striploin) STL
Front quarter F
Hind quarter H
Blended carcass beef FH
Point end briskets PEB
Chuck tenders CT
Rib eyes RBE
Shortloins SL
Flank steaks FLS
Tenderloins TDR
Rib RB
Blade BL
Plate P
Brisket (point end brisket) PEB
Brisket (navel end brisket) NEB
Codes for Boneless and Bone-In Cuts – Pork
Pork Cuts Code
Feet FT
Ham HM
Butt BT
Loin LN
Side ribs SDR
Shoulders butt SH
Picnic PIC
Hock HOC
Belly BLY
Tenderloin TDR
Back ribs BKR
Trimmings T
Codes for Boneless and Bone-In Cuts – Veal
Veal Cuts Code
Legs LEG
Loins LON
Shoulders SHD
Codes for Boneless and Bone-In Cuts – Mutton
Mutton Cuts Code
Trunks TRK
Codes for Boneless and Bone-In Cuts – Lamb
Lamb Cuts Code
Legs LEG
Loins LON
Shoulders SHD
Racks RCK
Sex identification codes for Bovine Types and codes
Sex Identification Code
Steer S
Cow C
Cow and Steer C
Bull B
Wrapping of meat cuts and code
Wrapping Code
Individually wrapped primal cuts IW
Vacuum packed, individually wrapped primal cuts IW/VAC
Layer packed primal cuts LP
Vacuum packed, layer packed primal cuts LP/VAC
Vacuum packed primal cuts VAC
Where more than one primal cut is wrapped in a single covering MW
Where more than one primal cut is vacuum packed in a single covering MW/VAC

(ii) Poultry and poultry cuts codes

Agreement has been reached with the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council on the acceptable use of the following abbreviations and codes for product descriptions on shipping containers for poultry and poultry cuts. Abbreviations and product codes are not accepted on consumer packages or on shipping containers of imported poultry products.

When product codes are used, they will always use the following sequence of abbreviations, each separated by an oblique slash ("/"): Species / Cut / Modifier (if applicable) / Process (if applicable). For example, the product code on the label for a box of Skinless Chicken thighs packed in modified atmosphere would be: "CHK/TH/SKLS/MA".

If the label already includes the full species name, there is no need to repeat the species abbreviation within the product code. For example, it would be acceptable to use "Young duck TB/SKLS/MA" to describe the contents of a box of skinless, trimmed young duck breasts packaged under modified atmosphere.

If more than one modifier apply to the product, the "modifier" abbreviations should be grouped together and separated by a comma. For example, the acceptable product code for the shipping container label of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts would be: "CHK/BR/BNLS,SKLS".

If there is no modifier which applies, but the operator wishes to include a process abbreviation, they should separate the "Cut" abbreviation from the "Process" abbreviation by two oblique slashes ("//") to indicate that no modifier applies to the product (for example: "CHK/TH//MA").

If an operator is using the same container to ship different products, each product will need to be coded separately and a semi-colon used to distinguish the codes for the two types of product. For example, if the operator is shipping chicken back-on thighs in the same carton as chicken breasts, the accepted abbreviation would be: "CHK/TH/BA;CHK/BR".

Codes for meat products
Species Code
Chicken CHK
Chicken capon CHC
Rock cornish hen RCH
Mature chicken MCH
Old rooster ORT
Young turkey YTK
Mature turkey MTK
Young duck YDK
Mature duck MDK
Young goose YGS
Mature goose MGS
Guinea fowl GFL
Ostrich OST
Partridge PAR
Pheasant PHE
Pigeon PGN
Quail QUL
Codes for meat cuts
Cut Code
Carcass CAR
Half HA
Front quarter FQ
Hind quarter HQ
Wing WG
Wing drumette WD
Winglet WT
Leg LG
Thigh TH
Drumstick DR
Breast BR
Half breast HB
Wish bone WO
Trimmed breast TB
Breast fillet BF
Whole back WB
Back BK
Stripped back SB
Neck NK
Giblet GB
Liver LV
Heart HT
Gizzard GZ
Regular ground RG
Medium ground MG
Lean ground LN
Extra lean ground EL
Modifier and code for meat cuts
Modifier Code
Boneless BNLS
Skinless SKLS
Basted BAS
Breaded BRE
Rolled ROL
Stuffed STU
Tied TI
Trimmed TRI
Back attached BA
Piece (8 pc. 9 pc) PC
Meat processing codes
Process Code
Modified atmosphere MA
For further processing FFP
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