Annex E-1: Grade Requirements for Imported Meat Products

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1. Introduction

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

2. Legislation

Canada Agricultural Products Act

Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations

2.1 Poultry

Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations:

13.1(2) No person shall import into Canada any processed poultry marked with a grade designate unless

  • (a) the processed poultry originated in a country that has grade standards for a poultry carcass substantially equivalent to those prescribed by these Regulations;
  • (b) the processed poultry meets the standards of one of the grades established by these Regulations;
  • (c) the processed poultry has been prepared under conditions substantially equivalent to those prescribed by the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990;
  • (d) the processed poultry meets the standards established by these Regulations for processed poultry of the grade corresponding to the grade designation marked on the container or the label attached to the carcass or container;
  • (e) the processed poultry is packed in accordance with section 62;
  • (f) where the processed poultry is a prepackaged product, it bears a label setting out:
    1. the information to be shown as required under the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Regulations,
    2. the common name and the grade designation, shown in bold face type of a height not less than the height set out in section 65 for a prepackaged product of the same weight as the processed poultry and in the colour for the outline of a maple leaf set out in subsection 66(3) for a prepackaged product of equivalent grade to the processed poultry, and
    3. the words "Product of" and "Produit de" followed by the name of the country of origin, shown in the same color as the information required by subparagraph (ii);
  • (g) where the processed poultry bears a label, the label meets the requirements set out in paragraph (f); and,
  • (h) the processed poultry is accompanied by inspection documentation, for presentation to an inspector at the point of inspection, certifying that the requirements of paragraph (a) to (c) have been met.

13.1(3) Where graded processed poultry that is not a prepackaged product is imported into Canada in a quantity in excess of 20 kg, the containers of the processed poultry shall in addition to the information required by paragraph 64(1)(c), be marked with the following information:

  • (a) the grade designation of the processed poultry;
  • (b) the words "With Giblets" or "Avec abattis" if giblets are packed with the processed poultry; and,
  • (c) the words "Product of" or "Produit de" followed by the name of the country in which the processed poultry was produced, or other words indicating that it was produced in that country.

13.1(4) Where graded processed poultry that is a prepackaged product is imported into Canada in a quantity in excess of 20 kg, the containers of the prepackaged product shall be marked with the information required by subsection (3) and by paragraph 64(1)(c) and subsection 64(2).

13.1(5) No label affixed to imported processed poultry shall contain any information declaring or implying that the imported processed poultry is of a superior grade than the grade marked on it.

2.2 Beef

The Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations section 13(4): no person shall import into Canada a beef carcass or a complete side, hind quarter, front quarter, primal cut or sub-primal cut thereof unless,

  • (a) if packed in a container, the container
    1. in the case of a graded product, is marked with the grade name of the product contained therein;
    2. in the case of an ungraded product, is marked with he words "Ungraded Beef" and "Boeuf non classé"; and
  • (b) if not packed in a container, it is graded and marked in accordance with the grading requirements of the country of origin or is accompanied by documentation, for presentation to an inspector or grader at the point of inspection, that
    1. in the case of a graded product, indicated the grade name of the product; and,
    2. in the case of an ungraded product, includes a declaration that the product is ungraded.

    "Sub-primal cut" means a cut of meat that is greater than 125 cm3 and is derived from a beef carcass or a primal cut thereof.

3. Grade Requirements for Import Poultry

  1. Imported processed poultry carcasses must meet the same grade standards as stated in the Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations. Inspectors of imported graded poultry must be certified as Poultry Graders as per the Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading 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.
  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 (e.g. USDA Grade A Chicken).
  4. Each graded carcass in a container must have a metal tag, clip, bag to identify the grade.
  5. All import 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 Livestock and Poultry Carcass Grading 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 Import Control and Data Information Centre in Ottawa and 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 (e.g. "USDA Grade A Chicken Breast"). Imported poultry products labeled this way should be refused entry.
  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 Annex E of this chapter.

3.1 Certification for Imported Poultry

The official grading certificate of the country of origin is required for all lots of imported graded carcasses or poultry. If this certificate cannot be provided, the shipment must be refused.

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.

4. Grade Requirements for Imported Beef

4.1 Labeling of Imported Beef

Inspectors at import inspection facilities shall verify imported beef carcasses or portions thereof, including sub-primal cuts are labeled in accordance with Annex E 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 (e.g. 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 (e.g. USDA Select or Higher); and,
  6. Except for imported beef certified as "unmarked", the required labeling information as described in Annex E must be applied to the container or as a tag attached to a beef portion.

For more details on beef grade labeling refer to Chapter 7 of the MOP.

4.2 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)

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

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

4.3.1 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 (as per Chapter 7 of the MOP)

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 (e.g. 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. E.g.: 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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