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Labelling requirements for meat and poultry products
List of ingredients – Meat and poultry products

The requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) with respect to declaration of ingredients, components and allergens apply to the labels of prepackaged meat products (definition) [B.01.008 to B.01.010, FDR]. In addition, the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) require a list of ingredients, including components, on the labels applied or attached to meat products that are interprovincially traded, imported or exported and are not prepackaged [283(1)(b) and (c), 283(2), 284, 285, SFCR].

Exemptions from list of ingredients

The following prepackaged meat products are exempt from declaring a list of ingredients:

  • prepackaged meat, meat by-products, poultry and poultry meat by-products that are barbecued, roasted or broiled on the retail premises are exempt from declaring a list of ingredients [B.01.008(2), FDR]

There are also exemptions from declaring certain meat ingredients and components in the list of ingredients, as follows:

  • sausage casings are not required to be shown on the label of prepackaged sausages [B.01.008(3)(b), FDR]. However, the declaration of species of a natural casing is required if the casing is from a different species than the meat ingredients used in the sausage. Please see Sausages wrapped in natural casings for more information on this topic
  • prepared or preserved meat, meat by-products, poultry meat and poultry by-products used as ingredients in other foods, when the total amount of those ingredients is less than 10% of a prepackaged product that consists of an unstandardized food, are exempt from a declaration of their components [B.01.009(1), FDR]

See List of ingredients and allergens for more information.

Ingredients and components of non-prepackaged meat products

For a meat product that is not prepackaged, the ingredients must be declared on the label applied or attached to the meat product in descending order of their proportion by weight or as a percentage of the meat product [283(1)(b), SFCR].

The components of ingredients, if any, must be [283(1)(c), SFCR]:

  • listed after the ingredient of which they are components, in such a manner as to indicate that they are components of that ingredient
  • listed in descending order of their proportion in the ingredient or as a percentage of the ingredient, as determined before they are combined to form the ingredient, and
  • shown in accordance with sections B.01.009 and B.01.010 of the FDR which deal with exemption from component declaration, common names and class names for ingredients and components, similarly to prepackaged meat products

An ingredient is not required to be shown in the list of ingredients if all components of the ingredient are shown in the list as if they were ingredients [283(2), SFCR].

For more information, refer to Components and Common names sections of the List of ingredients and allergens page.

Sometimes there is variation in the supply of certain ingredients which results in manufacturers substituting, varying or omitting certain ingredients that are normally used. Rules regarding ingredient omission, substitution or variation in non-prepackaged meat products are similar to those that apply to prepackaged meat products [284, SFCR; B.01.011, FDR]. For detailed information, consult Flexibility in the declaration of a list of ingredients.

Products where mechanically separated meats have been used

If more than one mechanically separated meat species is used in the meat block, the correct way to declare the ingredients list is to declare the types of mechanically separated meat in order of their proportion.

For example, the formulation below would be declared as: 

Mechanically separated meat (chicken, pork, beef, veal), Water, ...

or alternatively as:

Mechanically separated chicken, Water, Mechanically separated pork, Mechanically separated beef, Mechanically separated veal, ...

Formulation of a meat product containing mechanically separated meats
Species in meat block Per cent
Mechanically separated chicken 26.85%
Mechanically separated pork 20.00%
Mechanically separated beef 10.00%
Mechanically separated veal 9.55%
Water 22.60%
Spices and filler 11.00%

If more than one mechanically separated species meat is used in the meat block along with various boneless meats and, where the mechanically separated meats represent, in total, the highest percentage of the meat block, the ingredient list may declare the mechanically separated meat first (in order of proportion).

For example, the formulation below would be declared as:

Mechanically separated meat (chicken, turkey, pork), Water, Beef, Pork, Beef by-product, ...

or alternatively as:

Water, Mechanically separated chicken, Beef, Mechanically separated turkey, Pork, Mechanically separated pork, Beef by-product, ...

Formulation of a meat product containing mechanically separated meats
Meat used in meat block Per cent
Mechanically separated chicken 18.00%
Mechanically separated turkey 10.00%
Mechanically separated pork 8.00%
Beef 12.85%
Pork 9.00%
Beef by-products (plasma, tripes) 8.00%
Water 22.60%
Filler and spices 11.55%

Products to which smoke or smoke flavour was added

Smoke and smoke flavours are ingredients and must be listed accordingly. The following designations are appropriate, depending on how these ingredients were added to the meat product:

  • "Naturally smoked" – the meat product was exposed to smoke generated from the direct combustion of hardwood, hardwood sawdust or corn cobs. This can be done either in the presence of heat or not
  • "Smoked" – the meat product was treated with smoke derived directly or indirectly (for example, liquid smoke) from hardwood, hardwood sawdust or corn cobs. In the case of liquid smoke, the term "smoked" must be used only if the meat product was subjected to heat in the presence of a vaporized liquid smoke solution or when the meat product subjected to heat has been packaged in a casing or wrapping impregnated with liquid smoke
  • "Smoke flavour" – this term must be used when liquid smoke has been added to the meat product by methods other than those mentioned above, for example, adding liquid smoke directly into the emulsion.

Sausages wrapped in natural casings

Although sausage casings are not required to be shown on the label of prepackaged sausages [B.01.008(3)(b), FDR], special attention must be paid to the origin of natural casings used as wrapping in sausage production.

When a natural casing is derived from an animal species already listed as a meat ingredient in the sausages, the declaration of the natural casing is not required. However, when a natural casing originates from a different animal species than that of the meat ingredients in the sausage, the species of the natural casing must be declared on the label [5(1), FDA; 6(1), SFCA; 289, SFCR].

The declaration of species of the natural casing used as wrapping may generally be added to either the common name of the product or added at the end of the list of ingredients. In the event that a natural casing was used as wrapping but has been removed from the sausages, the species from which the natural casing was derived must appear in the list of ingredients and may not appear in the common name, as it would be considered false and misleading under subsections 6(1) of the Safe Food for Canadians Act and 5(1) of the Food and Drugs Act.

Examples:

Declaration of the natural casing in the list of ingredients:

Common name: "Sausage" or "Pepperoni"

Ingredients: Beef, Pork, Water, ... Spices, Lamb natural casing

In this case, a casing from another animal species is used and must be declared at the end of the ingredient list.

Declaration of the natural casing with the common name of the product:

Common name: "Beef sausage in lamb natural casing" or "Sausage in lamb natural casing"

Ingredients: Beef, Water, ... Spices

Declaration of the natural casing without naming the animal species:

Common name: "Lamb sausage in natural casing" (when a lamb casing is used) or "Pork sausage in natural casing" (when a pork casing is used).

Lamb or pork will have to be featured in the list of ingredients since both the meat ingredient and the natural casing are derived from this same animal species.

Meat products wrapped in collagen or carrageenan films

The use of edible wrappings (for example, collagen or carrageenan) in the preparation of meat products (definition) other than sausages must be declared at the end of the ingredient list. For example, the declaration "wrapped in carrageenan", "coated with carrageenan" or "wrapped in collagen" must appear at the end of the ingredient list of hams wrapped in these materials.

Solid meat cuts to which meat particles have been injected with brine

When a whole muscle cut has been injected with ground or emulsified meat particles (trimmings) in a proportion that is 15% or less of the fresh weight (green weight) of the meat at formulation, the label of the product does not need to indicate the presence of the trimmings. The calculation is done according to the following formula:

the weight in kilograms of ground or emulsified trimmings, divided by the weight in kilograms of meat cuts before injection plus the weight in kilograms of the ground or emulsified trimmings, multiplied by 100, equals the percentage of added trimmings.

For example:

fifteen kilograms of ground or emulsified trimmings, divided by eighty five kilograms of cuts plus fifteen kilograms of ground or emulsified trimmings, multiplied by one hundred, equals fifteen percent of added trimmings.

When a whole muscle cut has been injected with ground or emulsified meat particles (trimmings) in a proportion that exceeds 15% of the fresh weight (green weight) of the total meat content at formulation, the ingredients list of the product's label needs to indicate the presence of the ground or emulsified meat (pork, beef or poultry). For example, "A proportion of ground ham added" or "Ground and emulsified beef trimmings added" or "Ground and emulsified poultry trimmings added" or an equivalent statement must appear in the list of ingredients.

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