Solid Cut Meats Which Contain Phosphate Salts and/or Water

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The Food and Drug Regulations, (FDR) were amended on July 1, 1996 for solid cut meat, including poultry meat, to which phosphate salts and/or water have been added. The labelling requirements have been established for both plant packed and retail packed products. These labelling requirements enable consumers to:

  • refer to a list of ingredients to identify uncured meat cuts which contain phosphate salts and/or water; and
  • make price and quality comparisons between products based on % meat protein declarations.

Products Affected:

Meat products which must be labelled include "solid cut" meats such as chicken breasts or boneless ham which contain phosphate salts and/or water.

Note: Side bacon, Wiltshire bacon, pork jowls and salt beef are exempt from these labelling requirements.

What Are the Labelling Requirements for Products Packed at Retail?

In addition to the basic labelling requirements, pre-packaged solid cut meat and poultry products to which phosphates and/or water have been added must be labelled with:

  • the identity of the meat product in terms of its common name (e.g. Chicken Breast) and in terms that reflect the fact that it contains phosphate salts and/or water.

The term "Seasoned" in conjunction with the product's name is acceptable as a descriptor when:

  • phosphate salts
  • phosphate salts and water
  • spices and/or salt and water

are incorporated into the "solid cut" meat product. (e.g. "Seasoned Chicken Breast")

When only water is added, then an expression such as "Water Added" shall accompany the product's common name. (e.g. "Chicken Breast, Water Added")

  • a statement of the % Meat Protein as part of the common name of the product on the principal display panel of the package in type that is at least as legible and conspicuous as any other type on that display panel and in letters that are at least one half of the size of the letters used in the common name of the product but that are not less than 1.6 mm in height [B.01.090(2)].
  • a "...statement of the ingredients contained in that product..." [B.01.091(2)]

Note: This list of ingredients is not required on:

  • products which are also cured (e.g. ham); and
  • on bulk display signs, clerk served meat counter signs or in advertisements.

This information must appear in both official languages in areas designated as bilingual by the census performed by Statistics Canada.

Note: Solid cut meat products to which phosphate salts and/or water have been added that are not "pre-packaged" (e.g. deli meats) are not required to be labelled. Information regarding % protein and ingredients must still, however, be available to consumers either verbally or by means of a sign etc. The appropriate common name for a chicken breast, to which phosphate salts and/or water have been added, that is not prepackaged is still "Seasoned Chicken Breast".

Nutrition Information

A Nutrition Facts table is required on meat and poultry with added phosphates and/or water whether packaged at retail or packaged at the manufacturer. The requirement to show the % meat protein triggers the mandatory use of a Nutrition facts table on meat and poultry with added phosphates and/or water.

The Food and Drug Regulations exemption for raw single ingredient meats does not apply to meats with phosphates and/or water added. The percent meat protein declaration triggers the nutrition facts table, even if other exemptions apply, such as the less than 200 cm2 available display surface or manufactured on premises [B.01.401(3)(e)(I)]. Refer to Chapter 5 of the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising for further information on these requirements. Additional information is contained in the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising.

The table in section 14.4.5 of the Guide to food Labelling and Advertising provides a summary table for products packed at retail and note (ii) points out that the minimum meat protein content is not required in cases where phosphate salts and/or water have not been incorporated into the meat ingredient(s) but are present in the food via the addition of a non-meat ingredient (e.g. a sauce, glaze, broth, marinade, etc.) These foods may be exempted from showing a Nutrition Facts table if they meet one of the exemptions listed in section B.01.401(2), FDR.

Products From Your Suppliers:

While meat packers are not required to label shipping containers with percent protein declarations, it is their responsibility to provide this information to retailers. Retailers should, therefore, make sure that they get this information so that they can properly label products which they package.

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