Canadian Carcass Poultry Grading Program – Inspection Manual for Graded Poultry
5 Packaging and Marking

5.1 Packing and Packaging

Section 61 and 62 of the LPCG Regulations establishes the principal provisions for the packing of graded poultry.

Where corrugated fiberboard containers are used to pack fresh or frozen graded poultry, whether wrapped or unwrapped, they must meet the specifications contained in the Canadian Government Specifications Board Standard 43 GP 40 for Boxes, Corrugated Fiberboard for Graded Poultry.

The poultry container standard includes specifications for materials, styles, ventilation, closure and compression performance and represents the minimum manufacturing specifications for packing graded, dressed and eviscerated poultry which is fresh, frozen or deep chilled. The poultry container standard has been established to ensure that corrugated containers used to pack graded poultry are of sufficient strength and durability to adequately protect and maintain product wholesomeness during handling, transportation and storage.

If the container is constructed of corrugated fiberboard, the container, as required under section 2 and 62(1) (b), must be new, unused, clean and free from discolouration and objectionable odours.

The washable reusable container for packing poultry should be of a type which facilitates washing and sanitizing readily and must satisfy the general provisions of the regulations for strength and durability. A chemical evaluation and approval of the materials used in the containers' manufacture must be received from Food and Drug before a poultry processor is permitted to use the container. For poultry establishments coming under the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations, this chemical material composition approval is handled by CFIA Food Safety Division.

Containers in corrugated cartons with hand-holes must meet the following:

  • Open hand-holes or ventilating holes in corrugated cartons used in the transportation and/or storage of pre-packaged fresh or frozen poultry will be permitted provided that the inner packages remain visibly clean.
  • For non-pre-packaged fresh or frozen poultry, an overwrap or liner, which adequately encloses the contents, must be used in packing where hand-holes or ventilating slots are employed in the corrugated carton even if waxed on the interior.

5.1.1 Corrugated Container Program

  • Corrugated whole carcass poultry containers which additionally includes 15 dozen egg boxes, must show compliance with the respective Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) standards.

Where packaging found not to comply with the standards specification is involved in damaged eggs or poultry resulting from packaging failure, the existing container inventories of a manufacturer or user may be prohibited from further sale or use. The containers may be directed for other packaging purposes depending on the extent of the problem encountered.

5.1.2 Packing Individual Poultry

As required by Section 62 (2) of the LPCG Regulations poultry shall be individually wrapped or packed in containers which are either waxed or lined with other material which prevents the poultry from adhering to the container.

Section 62 (5) of the LPCG Regulations establishes that poultry must be sorted according to weight ranges to ensure uniform bird size throughout the pack and that only poultry having the same common name and grade shall be packed in a container.

For poultry that is individually wrapped, the wrapping material must be transparent in order that the general condition and factors establishing grade are visible to allow post packaging inspection of the poultry. The wrapping must be durable and non-susceptible to tears during handling, packaging and transport of the poultry.

Where shrinkable transparent material is used to individually wrap poultry, the wrap shall be of the proper size, form fitting to produce a neat, compact acceptable consumer pack minimizing bridging, ballooning, surface desiccation, freezer burn and the accumulation of free moisture on the carcass surface of the poultry.

5.2 Markings

5.2.1 General

Sections 63 to 67 of the LPCG Regulations contain details respecting the mandatory labelling requirements and the manner in which such information is to be applied to wrappers, tags, containers, tickets or labelling inserts for poultry.

Responsibility rests solely with the operator or manufacturer to design labels or label packaging material that complies with the mandatory labelling requirements prescribed by the various departmental regulations.

For federally registered establishments, the Meat Program Division requires the review and approval of the chemical composition of labelling and packaging materials which may come in direct contact with the poultry meat. The review and approval of the chemical composition of packaging materials is done in cooperation with the Food and Drug Division. For poultry processing stations or producer premises not operating under the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations, the manufacturers must deal directly with Food and Drug for the approval of the chemical composition of labelling or packaging materials prior to their use.

Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations apply only to pre-packaged products which refers to wrapped fresh or vacuum packed frozen poultry.

5.2.2 Packaging and Labelling Regulations requirements for pre-packaged poultry

The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations applicable to pre-packaged poultry are as follows:

5.2.2.1 Declaration of Net Content

For pre-packaged poultry this would simply refer to the application of the weight and weight units (kg) to the poultry wrapper. Since poultry is classed as a catch weight product which means it cannot be uniformly weighed to pre-determined quantities, an exemption is granted under this legislation to the packer or processor for not applying the weight to each individual bird packaged.

5.2.2.2 Common Name of the Pre-packaged Product

Although the LPCG Regulations establishes the common names for graded poultry, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations supersede their authority in terms of the general provisions for all pre-packaged products on the application and use of descriptive names by which it is commonly known.

5.2.2.3 Identity and Principal Place of Business

This simply refers to the name and address which identifies the party packing the poultry or the party for whom the poultry is packed.

5.2.2.4 Bilingual Labelling Requirements and Exemptions

All pre-packaged poultry must be bilingually labelled with the exception of those products qualifying as a locally produced poultry product. Locally produced poultry involves those poultry processors or producer graders who only market their poultry intra provincially within adjacent municipalities to the area in which the poultry is produced and packed. If poultry is locally produced and packed within an area that is designated bilingual, the labelling of the product must be bilingual.

5.2.2.5 Misleading Information

This refers to claims applied to the label or used in advertising which would tend to misrepresent the poultry to the consuming public. Examples of misleading information that would be considered unacceptable are as follows: the finest poultry, superior, premium brand, when expressed without a responsible company's or party's name, freshest, etc.

5.2.3 Food and Drug Regulations Requirements for Pre-Packaged Poultry

The Food and Drug Regulations establish three mandatory labelling provisions that are applicable to pre-packaged poultry.

5.2.3.1 Durable Life Date and Packaging Date Markings

The "packaging date" means the date on which a food is placed in an immediate package in which it will ultimately be sold to a consumer, except in the case of fresh or previously frozen meat, poultry or fish, or their by-products packed at other than the retail level in an immediate package in which it will be sold to a consumer, in which case packaging date means the date on which the packages are examined, weighed and priced by the retailer for the first time.

For fresh or previously frozen poultry the "packaging date" will replace the durable dating system on the package expressed in the same manner as the durable date but replacing the terms "Best Before" and "Meilleur Avant" with the terms "Packaged on" and "Empaqueté le". The durable date of the poultry meat will appear on a poster next to the poultry display.

The smaller retailer will be placing both the packaging date and the durable life date on the pre-packaged poultry due to the small volume of poultry handled and will not likely utilize the poster system of displaying the durable life date of the poultry. Example: Packaged on   Empaqueté le (81 AL 19).

5.2.3.2 Instructions for Storage

The instructions for storage must be shown on the pre-packaged poultry in both English and French anywhere except the bottom of the package. It may be labelled in unilingual English or French if it is a local product and marketed in an area which is not designated bilingual. Examples: Keep refrigerated / Garder Réfrigéré and Keep frozen / Garder congélé

5.2.3.3 Ingredient Listing

The ingredient listing is applicable to basted or graded stuffed poultry and refers to the food additives that have been added to the poultry which are applied to the labelled surface of the wrapper in order of their proportion or percentage on the label.

5.2.4 Wrappers and Bags

Since wrapped poultry qualifies as a pre-packaged product it must fulfill all the labelling requirements of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations and Food and Drug Regulations as well as the LPCG Regulations.

Poultry grade marked and labelled with only a grade tag and packaged in a closed wrapper is not an acceptable manner of packaging poultry since it does not meet all the mandatory labelling provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations applicable to pre-packaged poultry.

The wrappers must bear pre-printed labels. Poultry wrappers and bags must be labelled with the descriptions, as explained below.

5.2.4.1 Grade Name of Poultry

The grade names Canada A, Canada Utility / Utilité and Canada C shall be shown within the outline of a Maple Leaf.

The grade name of the poultry identified by the Maple Leaf logo or the grade designation is required if the poultry is imported.

5.2.4.2 Common Name and Grade Name Position

The common name and the grade name must be positioned on the bag so that this marking appears in the centre of the breast of the carcass when the poultry is packaged.

5.2.4.3 Registration Number

The registration number may appear in the Meat Inspection legend or on the closure clip.

  • If the poultry is imported the words "Product of" followed by the name of the country and in the case of export the application of the words "Product of Canada".
  • All information must be shown in both official languages except that the name and address by or for whom the product was pre-packaged may be shown in one of the official languages with the exception of locally produced product.

5.2.4.4 Identity and Principal Place of Business

The identity and principal place of business of the person by or for whom the poultry was prepared for resale is required.

5.2.4.5 Prepared For

In the case of poultry prepared for some other person, the terms "Prepared for and Preparé pour" preceding the identity and principal place of business of that person. If the wrapper bears the other person's or company's name or brand name the words "Prepared By and Préparé Par" may be used to precede the company or establishment preparing the product if they choose to do so.

5.2.4.6 Breast Bone Removed

The words "breast bone removed" is required with the product name if the breast bone has been removed.

5.2.4.7 Basted

The word "basted", "pre basted", "deep basted" or "self-basted" immediately preceding the common name (or following the common name in the case of the French equivalent) and the words "graded before basting" on a line immediately above the line containing the word "basted" (or containing the words "common name" in the case of the French equivalent).

5.2.4.8 Container without Giblets

The words "no giblets / sans abattis" is required if there are no giblets in the container. Canada Utility / Utilité grade will be exempted from this statement since the statement "May have Parts Missing or May have Parts and Giblets Missing" satisfies this requirement.

5.2.4.9 Missing Parts

If the poultry is graded Canada Utility, the words "May Have Parts Missing / Des parties peuvent manquer" or "May have Parts and Giblets Missing / Des parties ou les abattis peuvent manquer".

5.2.4.10 Presence of Kidneys

The words "May Contain Kidneys / Peut contenir des reins" if the kidneys have not been removed from the carcass as specified in section 2 of the LPCG Regulations.

5.2.4.11 Net Weight Declaration

5.2.4.12 Weight Declaration Exemption

Since poultry is a catch weight product, sales to a retailer of pre-packaged poultry will not require application of the weight to the wrapper of each individual bird. Pre-packaged (catch weight) poultry sold by a retailer also does not require a dual net quantity declaration. The retailer has the option of applying either Canadian or metric weight to the poultry.

5.2.4.13 Storage Instructions

The Food and Drug Regulations require that storage instructions be applied, "Keep Refrigerated" and "Garder réfrigéré" or "Keep Frozen / Garder congelé", as the case may be.

5.2.4.14 Packaging Dates

The system of applied durable dates and packaging dates to fresh or previously frozen graded poultry will be the responsibility of the retailer as previously described.

5.2.4.15 Common Name of Ingredients and Ingredient Components

This would involve "basted turkey" where the ingredient and component listing of the basting solution must be identified. Where the ingredient listing is not in close association with the common name, Consumer and Corporate Affairs have stated that the poultry meat must be identified in the ingredient listing as well. The responsibility for its proper application is left with the Meat Program Division.

5.2.4.16 Descriptive Terms

Poultry which has never been frozen and up to this time has been traditionally known and described as fresh poultry may use the word "fresh" on a label as a descriptive term qualifying the poultry as to state only. Consumer and Corporate Affairs have established that the term "fresh" may not be used as a quality descriptive term for poultry as it has been determined as misleading. Other descriptive terms considered misleading such as best, freshest, premium brand when used without a company name, etc. are also prohibited.

5.2.4.17 Letter Heights

The common name and the letters for the Grades A, Utility and C following the word "Canada" in the grade name for pre-packaged poultry shall be shown in bold face type in letters of not less than the following height:

  • 3.0 mm where the net weight of the poultry is equal to or less than 1kg.
  • 6.0 mm where the net weight of the poultry is more than 1kg and equal to or less than 5kg.
  • 9.0 mm where the net weight of the poultry is more than 5kg.

For pre-packaged poultry with the grade name "Canada Utility / Canada Utilité", shall be in bold face type in letters of not less than the following heights for the grade name:

  • 3.0 mm where the net weight of the poultry is equal to or less than 5.0kg.
  • 5.0 mm where the net weight of the poultry is more than 5.0kg.

5.2.4.18 Maple Leaf and Letter Colors

The Maple Leaf on a wrapper for pre-packaged poultry shall be:

  • red, where the poultry is graded Canada A;
  • blue, where the poultry is graded Canada Utility;
  • brown, where the poultry is graded Canada C;

The grade name shall be with white letters.

5.2.4.19 Upper and Lower Case Letters

The "height" of a letter for markings referred to in the Regulations means the height of an upper case letter where the words appear in upper case and the height of the lower case letter "o" when words appear in lower case or in a mixture of upper and lower case.

5.2.5 Tags, Inserts and Tickets

Listed below are the labelling requirements:

5.2.5.1 Common Name of the Poultry

5.2.5.2 Grade Name of the Poultry

The grade name of the poultry is expressed by the Maple Leaf logo encompassing the grade letter or words and the word "Canada".

5.2.5.3 Identity and Principal Place of Business

The identity and principal place of business is associated to the person by or for whom the poultry was prepared for resale.

5.2.5.4 Prepared For

In the case of poultry prepared for another person, the terms "Prepared For and Préparé pour" must precede the identity and principal place of business of that person. If the tag bears the other person's or company's name or brand name, the words "Prepared By and Préparé par" may be used to precede the company or establishment preparing the product if they choose to do so.

5.2.5.5 Registration Number

The registration number except where the poultry is inspected under the Meat Inspection Act and the establishment number appears in the inspection legend. In the case of imported poultry, the establishment number may appear in the wholesomeness inspection legend or placed below the grade name. (Due to the limited labelling surface, the application of the registration number will suffice eliminating the necessity of applying "Reg. No." and "No. d'enreg.").

5.2.5.6 Presence of Kidneys

The words "May Contain Kidneys / Peut contenir des reins" if the kidneys may have not been removed from the carcass as permitted by the Meat Inspection Regulations or by a legislation governing the establishment.

5.2.5.7 Lettering Heights

The established lettering height for the labelling surface of a grade tag attached to poultry is 1.5 mm.

To maintain as equally a prominent grade name on the larger labelling surface of the insert, a 4.5 mm minimum labelling size has been requested.

In the case of a ticket attached to a container of poultry, the minimum lettering height for the grade letter Canada A or Canada C is 6.0 mm. For the grade "Canada Utility / Utilité", the minimum printing height would be 3.0 mm. The remaining mandatory markings shall not be less than 3.0 mm in height.

5.2.6 Containers

The shipping or bulk pack container shall be marked in the following manner:

5.2.6.1 Common Name of the Poultry

5.2.6.2 Grade Name of the Poultry

The poultry processor has the option of applying the grade name as simply "Canada" plus the grade letter or utilizing the Maple Leaf logo to express the Canada grade name. Where poultry containers are used to pack more than one grade of poultry, it is recommended that the grade name be applied without the grade logo to facilitate multiple grade application since there is a problem of obliteration with the Maple Leaf grade logo.

5.2.6.3 Identity and Principal Place of Business

The identity and principal place of business by or for whom the poultry was prepared for resale.

5.2.6.4 Prepared For

Where poultry is prepared for another person bearing his identity and address, the words "Prepared For" and/or "Préparé pour" where the container is bilingually labelled preceding the identity and principal place of business.

5.2.6.5 Registration Number

The registration or establishment number appearing in the Meat Inspection legend: Where the poultry processing establishment is not federally registered, the registration number may be applied at the bottom of the container.

5.2.6.6 For Further Processing

Where not individually marked poultry is graded Canada A, Canada Utility or Canada C and is intended for further processing, the words "For Further Processing" and "Pour transformation ultérieure" must follow the grade name.

5.2.6.7 Product of Canada

If the poultry is intended for export, the words "Product of Canada" and "Produit du Canada".

5.2.6.8 Net Weight of the Product

The net weight of the product expressed in metric.

5.2.6.9 Weight Symbols

The weight symbols are expressed as "kg" in lower case letters with no "s" or periods.

5.2.6.10 Container without Giblets

The words "No Giblets / Sans abattis" if there are no giblets packed with the poultry.

5.2.6.11 Number of Poultry

The number of poultry carcasses preceding the common name of the poultry if the package contains more than one poultry carcass.

5.2.6.12 Storage Instructions

The words "keep frozen" or "keep refrigerated" as the case may be.

5.2.6.13 Kill Date and Pack by Date

The poultry processors have also established with the Retail Council of Canada that they will apply "Kill Date" and "Pack by Date" on containers carrying pre-packed fresh poultry to facilitate dating of poultry meat at the retail store.

5.2.6.14 Lettering Height

The Regulations requires that the words "Product of" plus the country of origin be a minimum of one half the height of the common name of the poultry.

As a result of a move by industry to press for check off labels for frozen poultry containers, we have been forced to adopt a lower minimum print size for markings. The mandatory labelling of common name, grade letter or word, identity and principal place of business and the declaration of net contents shall be not less than 6.0 mm. For applying the grade name "Canada Utility / Utilité" in the Maple Leaf logo, 3.0 mm printing would be required.

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