Labelling requirements for meat and poultry products
Common name – Meat and poultry products
A common name is required on the principal display panel of non-prepackaged meat products (definition) that are interprovincially traded, imported or exported, as well as on the principal display panel of all prepackaged (definition) meat products [218(a), 283(1)(a), SFCR; B.01.006, FDR].
Common names for standardized meat products are shown in bold-faced type, but not in italics, in the document entitled Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products, incorporated by reference into the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), and in Division 14 and 22 of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR). 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.
In the case of a prepackaged poultry carcass that is dressed or partially dressed and has been graded, the common name must be shown [292, SFCR]:
- if individually packaged, on the part of the package that lies on or over the anterior centre of the breast
- if not individually packaged, on a tag attached to the V of the wishbone (for example, breast tag)
For general information that applies to all foods, including meat products, refer to Common name.
Meat cut nomenclature
For retail meats, the Meat cuts manual defines the common names for meat cuts of beef, horse, lamb, pork, poultry and veal, as well as the limits within which each name may be used. The Wholesale meat specifications document provides the nomenclature for wholesale cuts of beef, chicken, lamb, pork, turkey and veal. Information on common names for cuts of ostrich meat can be found under Ostrich meat cut nomenclature.
The following products are exempt from using the designated terms in the Meat cuts manual:
- products such as stewing beef, beef shish kebab, pork fondue or other meat which have been broken down into small pieces
- minute (mechanically tenderized) steaks taken from the beef hip. In this case, these may be labelled with either
- the appropriate term for the specific portion of the hip (for example, "Rump Minute Steaks"), or
- the term "Hip" (for example, "Hip Minute Steaks")
Minute steaks which come from parts of the beef carcass other than the hip must in all cases be labelled with the appropriate term given in the diagram in the Meat Cuts Manual.
For ground meat, the name of the cut from which ground meat is prepared is not required to describe this product, although permitted by the standard of identity for ground meat in the Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products. Any references to the cut of meat must be truthful and not misleading. Refer to Ground meat for more information.
Modified standardized common names for meat products
A meat product (definition) 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 (for which a standard of identity is prescribed in item 18 of Part A of Table 2 of the Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products) 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 any of the specific terms included in Schedule 8 of the SFCR (for example, "Oven Roasted" / "rôti au four") are used as part of the common name, the meat product must meet all prescribed requirements [288, SFCR]. For information on the use of these specific terms, consult the Additional terms section.
Coined names for meat products
Generally, coined names are not acceptable as common names. However, in some cases, coined names have been accepted as common names for unstandardized foods because they have become known to consumers over a long period of time or are commonly known. Coined names most commonly used for meat products (definition) include: fingers, nuggets, sticks and strips.
Products that are made from a solid piece of meat may use terms such as "Nuggets", "Fingers", etc. as part of the common name without further qualifications, for example, "Chicken Nuggets".
Products made from meat that has been chopped and formed may use terms such as "Nuggets", "Fingers" etc. as part of the common name provided the common name accurately describes the form of the meat, for example, "Chicken Nuggets, Chopped and Formed".
Products made from chopped meat and containing fillers may be described as "Nuggets", "Fingers" etc. provided a descriptive name immediately follows, for example, "Nugget Shaped Chicken Burgers". Otherwise, the common name must fully describe the product.
For more information on the use of coined names, refer to Distinctive common names.
Highlighting meat cuts in the common name
When a cut of meat is highlighted in the common name of a meat product (definition) such as burgers, ground meat products, patties or sausages, the meat must be sourced only from the applicable cut as defined by the Meat cuts manual. Furthermore, the meat must be comprised of a normal distribution of constituents (for example, muscle-fat ratio) as prescribed by common names and standards. The modifier is not permitted to appear between the prescribed words which make up the standardized common name, and to avoid potential confusion, the animal species should be included in the common name. The modifier should appear in the same size type and prominence as the common name. For example:
"Sirloin Beef Burger" would be acceptable on a product made from a meat block of 100% sirloin.
Where two or more cuts of meat are highlighted as part of the common name, the product shall contain all named cuts, shown in descending order of their proportion of the meat block. For example:
"Sirloin and Chuck Beef Burger" would be acceptable for a product made from a meat block that contains both sirloin and chuck, with sirloin content greater than or equal to the chuck content.
Species-specific common name
A species-specific common name to indicate that a meat product (definition) originated from a certain species or subspecies can be made on labels and in advertising provided the meat was derived from the carcass of a food animal of that species or subspecies. Examples of this would include, but are not limited to, Angus Beef, Wagyu Beef, Kobe Beef, Peking Duck, Muscovy Duck, North American Bison and Wild Boar.
Proof of origin and segregation, such as paper documentation, of the animals used to create the product must be provided to a CFIA inspector upon request to substantiate the claim.
When the subspecies is included as part of the common name of the meat product, such as burgers, ground meats products, patties or sausages, to avoid potential confusion, the animal species should be included in the common name and all should appear in the same type size and prominence. For example:
"Angus Beef Burger" would be an acceptable common name for a product made from a meat block of 100% Angus beef.
Where two or more species or subspecies are highlighted as part of the common name, the product shall contain all named species or subspecies, shown in descending order of their proportion of the meat block. For example:
"Angus and Wagyu Beef Burger" would be an acceptable common name for a product made from a meat block that contains both Angus and Wagyu, with Angus content greater than or equal to Wagyu content.
For more information, see Meat cut and species-specific claims.
Declaration of species
Meat products derived from multiple species
If a meat product (definition) 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 ingredients 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 proportion.
Retail meat cuts
The name used to describe all retail meat cuts, other than beef, must include an indication of the species. For example, the term "veal" must appear in conjunction with the term "shoulder" when a veal shoulder roast is offered for sale. However, the term "beef" is not required to appear on the label of a beef shoulder roast.
Standards of identity are prescribed for ground meat under items 1 to 4 in Part A of Table 2 of the Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products and sections B.14.015, B.14.015A and B.14.015B of the FDR. The appropriate common name for these products is the name that corresponds with the fat content, and other aspects of the standard, as follows:
- Regular Ground (Naming the species or cut) – maximum 30% fat
- Medium Ground (Naming the species or cut) – maximum 23% fat
- Lean Ground (Naming the species or cut) – maximum 17% fat
- Extra Lean Ground (Naming the species or cut) – 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 only contain the ingredients provided for in the standard. The common name must accurately represent the animal species from which it is derived. For example, "Regular Ground Beef" may only contain beef with a fat content of 30% or lower.
Ground meat burgers and patties
In addition to the above standards for ground meats, "Meat Pattie" and "Meat Burger" also have prescribed standards set out under items 7 to 9 in Part A of Table 2 of the Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products. When combining the term "pattie" or "burger" with "ground meat" to describe a ground meat product, the product must meet the standards applicable to all the meat products in that name. For example, a product may only use the common name "Lean Ground Beef Pattie" if the product meets the standard for lean ground beef and does not contain any other ingredients. An appropriate common name for ground beef patties containing seasoning, salt or spices would be "Beef Patties".
Section 1.0 of the Beef, Bison and Veal Carcass Grade Requirements – PDF (260 kb) (referred to as the Grades Document), prepared and published by the Canadian Beef Grading Agency, defines veal as the meat of a bovine animal with the hide off that has the maturity characteristics set out in Schedule IX of the Grades Document and a maximum carcass weight of 190 kg. Any carcass not meeting the definition of veal (for example, weighs more than 190 kg) must be labelled as beef. In this case, the carcass must meet all specifications for beef, including all other regulatory requirements for beef, such as grading.
When interprovincially traded, imported or exported, the term "Ham" / "jambon" may only be used to describe a meat product that is derived from the hind leg of a dressed swine carcass above the tarsal joint [295, SFCR].
Furthermore, the following nomenclature has been adopted for the description of ham when modifiers such as "Boneless" are used in conjunction with the common name.
Whole boneless ham
The term "Whole Boneless Ham" may be used where the product contains all the muscles or pieces of muscles in the same proportion as would be derived from a whole ham and where the proportion of shank meat does not exceed that normally present in a whole ham.
The term "Boneless Ham" follows the same specifications as in "Whole Boneless Ham", except that some of the muscles or pieces of muscles derived from a whole ham need not be present.
Note: The manufacturing process used in the production of either "Whole Boneless Ham" or "Boneless Ham" should be such that the resulting final product contains a minimum of 80% meat in pieces of muscle weighing 25 g or more on a raw meat ingredient basis. If the final product does not respect this proportion and size of pieces of meat, the product shall be identified as "Chopped Ham" or "Minced Ham".
Jellied prepared meat
Food additives, such as gums and gelling agents, are not permitted for use as fillers (definition). Where a standard allows the use of a gelling agent (definition), agar, carrageenan or gelatin may be used in amounts up to 0.25% of the meat product (definition) without being reflected in the product's common name. The gelling agent used must however be listed as an ingredient [item 9, Schedule 8, SFCR].
When a gelling agent has been added to a meat product in quantities greater than 0.25%, the word "jellied" / "en gelée" must be shown on the label in close proximity (definition) to the common name [288, Schedule 8, SFCR; 22(2), Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products; B.14.039, FDR]. The gelling agent used must also be included in the list of ingredients.
Please refer to the table Processing and labelling requirements for meat products for more information.
Meat and poultry products with added phosphate salts and/or water
Refer to Phosphated meats and meat products section for common name requirements for meat products (definition) to which phosphate salts and/or water have been added.
Retained water declaration for raw single-ingredient meat products
The amount of water added and retained in raw single-ingredient meat products (definition) 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 consumer prepackaged (definition) products, or on the label of prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged products. Raw single-ingredient meat products include items such as dressed carcasses, parts of dressed carcasses, offal and giblets.
Please note that standards for water retention in dressed poultry carcasses are set out in section 20 of the Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products. As such, a declaration of retained water for dressed poultry carcasses is not required. However, poultry carcasses containing giblets (for example, frozen turkeys) require a retained water declaration for the giblets.
Manner of declaring retained water
When water retention is declared for raw single-ingredient meat products, the following three phrases are acceptable:
- "up to X% water retained"
- "less than X% water retained", and
- "up to X% retained water added due to processing"
The retained water percentage is always rounded 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% 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.
Note: A claim such as "no water added" is not permitted since it may likely be considered misleading under subsections 5(1) of the FDA and 6(1) of the SFCA. Refer to Negative claims pertaining to the absence or non-addition of a substance for more information.
When the retained water declaration is presented as part of the product description, it must be conspicuously shown and written in characters not less than half the size of the product's common name or half the size of any additional mandatory information (for example, "with giblets").
Packages containing a variety of raw, single-ingredient meat products (for example, giblets) may declare the amount of retained water on the label by either:
- listing a separate declaration for each component, or
- making a single declaration which indicates the maximum water retained by the components
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 label of prepared, including multi-ingredient, meat products (for example, raw or cooked sausage, pre-basted turkeys with or without giblets, giblets within a pre-basted turkey carcass, 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 Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 7 – Meat Products or in the FDR.
Meat products formed with meat binders
Meat products (definition) formed or bound by meat binders must be accurately reflected in the common name of the product. When a meat binder is used to bind meat of the same species, the common name of the product should be "formed (naming the product) with (naming the meat binder)" or "(naming the product) pieces bound with (naming the meat binder)". For example, an appropriate common name for beef bound with beef fibrinogen would be "formed beef with fibrinogen".
When the source of the meat binder originates from a different species than the meat product, it must be reflected in the common name of the product. The common name should be "formed (naming the product) with (naming the meat binder and species)". For example, an appropriate common name for chicken pieces bound with beef fibrinogen would be "formed chicken with beef fibrinogen".
Additionally, the source of the meat binder must be declared as part of the common name used in the list of ingredients. For example, "beef, beef fibrinogen..." or "chicken, beef fibrinogen" would appear in the list of ingredients. It is also acceptable to declare the meat binder as "(naming the species) by-product" in the list of ingredients [B.14.003, FDR].
Transglutaminase, commonly known as meat glue, is a food additive permitted for use in meat products and in simulated meat products (definition). Meat products containing transglutaminase must treat the additive as a meat binder and comply with the rules above. If the combinations of meats that are bound together by transglutaminase are derived from more than one animal species, all species are expected to be listed in the common name and under the list of ingredients.
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