Canadian Carcass Poultry Grading Program – Inspection Manual for Graded Poultry
4 Grade Standards

4.1 Grade Factors and Specifications

"Part I – Administration" of the LPCGR sets out the "Terms and Conditions of Grading". The factors and specifications for the application of grades names are defined in Section 3 of the LPCG Regulations. This section states that an eviscerated poultry may be graded only if:

  • the carcass is from poultry slaughtered in an approved establishment;
  • the carcass has been inspected under the Meat Inspection Act or under an Act of the legislature of a province that provides for the inspection of processed poultry;
  • the flesh or skin of a chilled carcass is not dried out;
  • the carcass is not discoloured from insufficient draining of blood;
  • the carcass has no more than one heart, liver, gizzard and neck packed with it or inserted into it;
  • the breast bone is intact, in the case of a chicken carcass weighing more than 900 g;
  • the carcass has not been basted or stuffed; and
  • the carcass meets the standards for a grade name set out in Part VII of the LPCG Regulations.

In addition to meet the previous conditions, a partially eviscerated poultry carcass cannot be graded unless the following is met:

  • the epidermis is removed from the feet and shanks;
  • the toenails are removed;
  • the head, if present, is flushed (it is recognized that wrapping the heads is less efficient); and
  • the mouth, if present, is clean

The LPCG Regulations refer to the following three (3) grade names:

  • Canada A grade
  • Canada Utility grade
  • Canada C grade

The application of a grade name under the LPCG Regulations depends on established criteria considering the four (4) following factors:

  • Conformation
  • Flesh
  • Fat
  • Dressing

The specific conditions applicable for the grade names are defined in Part VII - Grade Names and Grade Standards for Poultry Carcasses".

4.2 Tables on Grade Factors and Specifications

Conformation – Canadian Poultry Grade Standards
Factors And Sub-factors Canada A Canada Utility Canada C
Skeletal Structure Normal
Slightly crooked keel
No meat interference
Slightly crooked keel
May have meat interference
Crooked keel
May have meat interference
Curvature of Back Moderate Allowed Allowed
Knobby Keels Slight to moderate Allowed Allowed
Cysts Nil

Weights < 2kg:
10 cent piece

Weights of 2 - 4.5kg:
25 cent piece

Weights > 4.5kg:
one (1) dollar coin

No maximum, clear contents
Deformed Backs Nil Nil Allowed
Blisters Max. length 2.5 cm Max. length 2.5 cm Allowed
Flesh – Canadian Poultry Grade Standards
Factors and Sub-factors Canada A Canada Utility Canada C

Moderately plump; moderate taper.

Maximum projection anterior end 3.0 mm

Sufficient to prevent sharp falling away from keel.

Maximum projection 3.0 mm beyond the flesh.

Sufficient to prevent extreme sharp falling.

Maximum projection 5.0 mm beyond the flesh.

Fat – Canadian Poultry Grade Standards
Factors And Sub-factors Canada A Canada Utility Canada C

Chicken, Capon, Rock Cornish Hen, mature chicken, old rooster, Duck, Geese:
Breast, thighs and back show evidence of fat cover.

Deposits of fat in the main feather tract on breast, evidence by pronounced thickening at center

Sufficient to prevent flesh from appearing prominently through the skin. None
Dressing – Canadian Poultry Grade Standards
Factors And Sub-factors Canada A Canada Utility Canada C
Skin Tears

Breast (< 5.5kg):
Aggregate length of 6 mm

Elsewhere (< 5.5kg):
Aggregate length of 2.5 cm

Breast (≥ 5.5 kg):
Aggregate length of 1.2 cm

Elsewhere(≥ 5.5 kg):
Aggregate length of 3.5 cm

Areas of skin removed not more than 1/2 of the area of the breast.

Tears and cuts half the length of keel.


Total area 1.6 cm²

Total area 6.5 cm²

Total area 6.5 cm²

Total area 8.0 cm²

Not exceeding 14.5 cm²
Parts Missing

Wing Tips and Tail – may be removed.

Breast bone – may be removed for poultry weighting less than 900g.

Wing tips and flat wings – may be removed for Ducks and Geese.

Flesh Exposure:
Maximum 3.0 cm of exposed flesh at posterior end of the keel.

Wings – May be removed

Legs – One leg including thigh or both drumsticks removed

Tail – May be removed

Flesh – Small area of flesh

Skin – Not more than 1/2 of the area of the breast may be removed

Back Portion
Young and mature turkey < 7 kg = 4 cm maximum; and
Young and mature turkey ≥ 7 kg = 6 cm maximum

Note: parts must be removed at the joint

Same as Canada A
Freezer Burn Surface desiccation maximum area of 14.5 cm² Same as Canada A Allowed
Dried Out Areas Not allowed Not allowed Not allowed
Broken Bones and Dislocated Bones Minor dislocation of the vertebra column not affecting the shape and the rigidity is allowed Wing and leg bones may be dislocated - no broken bones Allowed

4.2.1 Additional Factor Clarifications

In addition to the criteria specified in the previous table, the following characteristics are to be considered.

Discoloration from slow freezing:

The light amber coloration of the skin attributed to slow freezing or thawing and refreezing, amber to brownish coloration of the skin, will be permitted in all grades. However, where the skin coloration is near mahogany color, the poultry will be classified as ineligible for a grade for reasons of excessive discoloration and poor freezing.

Discoloration resulting from the presence of frozen seepage:

When the accumulated water from the chill tank is of a dark red or amber color, the defect is identified as a dressing defect and is assessed according to the allowable amount of discoloration tolerated for the grade. However, in frozen poultry, when the color of the accumulated free liquid is pink or light amber in color, the condition is classified as poor drainage and the total area of the condition is not to exceed one and one half times the maximum allowable amount of discoloration. Frozen poultry exhibiting amounts of free water in excess of this amount is identified as a defect attributed to poor drainage and the poultry is declared ineligible for a grade.


In addition to the normally permitted trim under the grade standards, a small proportion of the backbone forward from the base of the tail will be allowed to be trimmed on Canada Utility grades of young and mature turkey for reasons of interior abdominal contamination.

Broken Backs or Rib Cages:

For those kinds of poultry where no Canada C grade is eligible, poultry possessing broken bones is ineligible for a grade.

Hock and Leg Parts Removal:

Although the Regulation has established that the legs of eviscerated poultry are to be removed at the hock joint, we will apply the following administrative tolerance for part separation. The maximum tolerance zone is below the condyle of the bone, where the medullary cavity (marrow) of the bone shaft starts. Cuts anywhere within the tolerance zone will result in an acceptable part separation provided the flesh is not mutilated and the meat yield associated with the part is not materially affected. The tendons connecting the flesh to the tibiotarsus must remain attached. The following image shows the acceptable zones to separate the legs:

Hock and Leg Parts Removal
Image shows the acceptable zones to separate the legs, as described above in "Hock and Leg Parts Removal".


Means a miniature feather so protruding through the skin that it can be extracted and includes down. No pinfeather longer than 1.2 centimetres will be accepted for all species except turkey. A maximum pinfeather length of 1.8 centimetres will be permitted for turkey. Any follicle longer than the above tolerances will be considered as a feather and will not be deemed acceptable.

Discoloration, Desiccation and Freezer Burn Sizes:

The following pictorial illustrations indicate the size of the aggregate area allowed for the various grades of poultry on such factors as discoloration, surface desiccation and freezer burn.

  • 1.6 cm² is equivalent to an area of 1.3 × 1.3 cm.
    Aggregate area that measures 1.3 by 1.3 centimetres
  • 6.5 cm² is equivalent to an area of 2.6 × 2.6 cm.
    Aggregate area that measures 2.6 by 2.6 centimetres
  • 8.0 cm² is equivalent to an area of 2.8 cm × 2.8 cm.
    Aggregate area that measures 2.8 by 2.8 centimetres
  • 14.5 cm² is equivalent to an area of 3.8 × 3.8 cm.
    Aggregate area that measures 3.8 by 3.8 centimetres

4.2.2 Packaging – Ballooning

To establish a uniform national interpretation and application of packaging requirements for frozen graded processed poultry, the following table illustrates what is to be considered:

Packaging and Ballooning Dimension Table
Poultry Weight Aggregate Area of Ballooning Approximate Dimensions
1.0 kg and less 25 cm² 5cm × 5cm
1.0 kg - 2.0 kg 40 cm² 6.4cm × 6.4cm
2.0 kg - 5.5 kg 60 cm² 7.7cm × 7.7cm
5.5 kg and plus 100 cm² 10cm × 10cm

Since ballooning will occur under cold storage conditions following the packing of vacuum packed poultry, the ballooning or non-adherence of the wrapper to the carcass surface is to be assessed on the degree of this condition over the entire carcass.

Aggregate areas
Aggregate areas show the size difference between Approximate Dimensions, as described in Packaging and Ballooning Dimension Table.

4.3 Grading Mature Chicken

Carcasses under the designation "Mature Chicken" may be graded Canada Utility if the carcass meets the established standards for the Canada Utility, if both sides of the carcass breast have sufficient fullness of flesh and if the carcass is less than 1.8 kg in weight.

Grade C is exclusively reserved for mature chickens.

Note: Mature chicken may not be graded Canada C if the carcass meets the standards for the grade Canada A or the grade Canada Utility

Date modified: