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Grade requirements for imported meat products

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Introduction

All imported beef carcasses, beef cuts and graded poultry carcasses must have a grade designation.

Grade requirements for imported poultry

  1. Imported processed poultry carcasses must meet the same grade standards as stated in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.
  2. Processed graded poultry carcasses can only be imported from a country whose grade standards are similar to Canada's. The United States have similar grades A, B, C. Refer to Countries from which commercial importation of meat products is permitted to find out if poultry grades are accepted from that country.
  3. The common name and grade must be stated on the Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC) and match the container of the imported graded poultry carcasses (for example, USDA Grade A Chicken).
  4. Each graded carcass in a container must have a metal tag, clip, bag to identify the grade.
  5. All imported shipments of graded processed poultry must be accompanied by an original official grading certificate signed by an official inspector of the country of origin. The certificate will verify that the requirements of the Safe Food for Canadian Regulations have been met. For graded poultry from the United States, a copy of the grading certificate must be included with other pertinent documentation to the National Import Service Centre (NISC).
  6. Cuts of poultry are not assigned a grade in Canada. Countries such as the United States allow grades to be assigned to cuts of poultry (for example, "USDA Grade A Chicken Breast"). Imported poultry products labeled this way should be refused entry. Only poultry carcasses can be graded (not parts nor other edible meat by products such as hearts, livers)
  7. Official grading certificates of the importing country must be referenced on the corresponding OMIC for graded poultry.
  8. Labels must meet all the requirements as stated in the Safe Food for Canadian Regulations (SFCR).

Certification for imported poultry

The official grading certificate of the country of origin is required for all lots of imported graded carcasses or poultry.

Graded poultry shipments from the United States require an original USDA form PY-210 (Poultry Products Grading Certificate).

The grading certificate must make reference to the OMIC.

Grade requirements for imported beef

Labeling of imported beef

Imported beef carcasses or portions thereof, including sub-primal cuts are labeled in accordance with the SFCR and meet the following requirements:

  1. The beef is packed in a container or a bulk container and that container or bulk container is marked with the grade name of the product or in the case of ungraded beef the words "ungraded beef". It is not mandatory for prepackaged cuts for retail sale to be labeled with the grade information providing it appears on the shipping container
  2. When the beef is not packed in a container, the beef is either graded and marked as required by the country of origin or is to be treated as ungraded beef
  3. The grade description or word "ungraded" is required on the OMIC for all single ingredient portions of beef to the sub-primal size including those certified as "Unmarked"
  4. Graded beef packed in a carton or bulk container may be of a single grade or multiple grades. When beef cuts of different grades are mixed together in a container or bulk container, the specific grade codes or grade names for the product must be marked on the container (for example, USDA Select/USDA Choice)
  5. The labeling of cartons with statements such as "or higher" in conjunction with the USDA grade name for beef shall be considered acceptable (for example, USDA Select or Higher); and
  6. Except for imported beef certified as "unmarked", the required labeling information must be applied to the container or as a tag attached to a beef portion.

Grading systems of other countries for beef

Canada is presently recognizing the grading system of the following countries only: Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Uruguay.

Argentina official grade names (symbols)
Spanish grade name Symbol English grade name
Novillo NOV Steer
Novillito NT Young Steer
Ternero TN Veal
Toro TOR Bull
Vaca VA Cow
Vaquillona VQ Heifer
Australia official grade names (symbols)
Symbol Grade name
A beef
B bull
BA bull and beef
BYG young bull
C cow
PR prime beef
PRS prime steer
S ox
SS steer
V veal
Y yearling beef
YE yearling entire
YG young beef
YGE young entire
YGS young steer
YP young prime beef
YPS young prime steer
YS yearling steer
New Zealand official grade names (symbols)
Symbol Grade name
B bull
C steer, heifer and cow
PR cow
PS steer and heifer
XY young lean beef

United States official grade names (symbols)

For beef

U.S.D.A. Canner
U.S.D.A. Choice
U.S.D.A. Commercial
U.S.D.A. Cutter
U.S.D.A. Prime
U.S.D.A. Select
U.S.D.A. Standard
U.S.D.A. Utility

For veal

Prime
Choice
Good
Standard
Utility

Uruguay official grade names (symbols)
Spanish grade name Symbol English grade name
Manufactura M Manufacture
Novillo N Steer
Novillo joven NJ Young Steer
Novillito NN Yearling Steer
Vaca VA Cow
Vaca joven VJ Young Cow
Vaquillona Y Heifer

Example of a label applied to the main panel of a bulk container

Product Description  checkbox

Grade Description  checkbox

PS refers to grade "steer and heifer".
PEB refers to the generic code for Point End Brisket

The official grade symbols are usually followed by the product (cut) code. The grade symbol and the product code must be separated by a dash (as indicated on the examples), space, star or a slash, to avoid confusion. The full name of the cut is also permitted (for example, Boneless Beef Outside Round). All mandatory product descriptions must be as described in the Canadian Meat Cut Manual. Abbreviations or codes may not be used as part of the mandatory product description. For example, the product description of Boneless Beef Ribeye is not acceptable as Bnls Beef RBE.

label for boneless beef showing official grade symbols

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