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Meat and Poultry Inspection Division
meat packaging label

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Grass Fed Claim Standards

Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms

Food Product Dating

USDA Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book


(NOTE: The following are the principal requirements of most labels. Use this checklist as a guide before submitting labels for approval or before having them printed.)

I. Product Name:

A. Does label bear the true name of the product? Product name should not mislead the public

II. Statement of Ingredients:

A. If the ingredients statement (required on labels of all products containing two or more
ingredients) contiguous to the product name?

B. Are qualifying statements, such as "Artificially Colored", "Nonfat Dry Milk Added", "Cereal Added", etc. contiguous to the product name?

C. Are ingredients listed in order of their predominance in the product?

D. Is the word "Ingredients", before the actual listing of ingredients, spelled out?

E. Is the name of each ingredient identified by its common or usual name, recognizable by the public?

F. If the product has a definition, be sure the product name, qualifying statements and ingredients statements conform to the definition.

III. Inspection Legend:

A. Is the legend in the prescribed proportions and is lettering correct and of the proper size? Click here for a description of legend requirements.

B. Is the inspection legend on the principal display panel?

IV. Net Weight Statement:

A. Is the net weight statement in the lower 30% of the label? Is the net weight shown on the principal panel?

B. Is the net weight expressed in ounces or pounds on containers of product? EXAMPLE: 24 oz. or 1 1/2 lbs. Alternatively, net weights may be expressed decimally in hundredths.

C. Content statement may not be qualified by terms as "when packed", "not less than", "minimum", "full" and "jumbo".

D. Strip labels or pressure sensitive labels used on bulk packages need not bear a net weight statement, providing the net weight statement appears elsewhere on the principal display panel or is written on the packages in a space provided for that purpose.

V. Company Name and Address:

A. The company name (producer) as it is shown on the official application for inspection must appear on the principal display panel.

B. If the name is other than the producer, it must be qualified by a statement identifying the person or firm associate with the product, such as "Packed for _____", or "Distributed by _____".

C. The address of the plant (city, state and zip code) must also be shown on the principal display panel provided such business is listed in the local telephone or city directory. If not listed in such directory, then the place of business shall be shown by street address, city, state and zip code.

VI. Handling Statement:

A. Packaged products which require special handling to maintain wholesomeness must have a statement on the label identifying the condition that must be maintained, such as "Keep Refrigerated", "Keep Frozen" or "Perishable Keep Refrigerated".

B. Ground meat mixtures containing pork, or pork and beef, veal, mutton or goat meat, and prepared in such a manner that they might be eaten rare or without thorough cooking should bear the statement "Cook Before Eating".

C. All handling statements must be on the principal panel including "Safe Handling Instructions".

VII. Printing:

A. All required words, statements, or information must be printed in the same plane on the principal display panel or label as the case may be.

B. Required words, statements or information must be printed on a sufficiently contrasting background and be of such size, type or lettering which will afford easy reading.

VIII. Colors, Pictures and Packages:

Be certain colors and pictures are not used to mislead customers or make the product appear better than it is. Packages should not be any larger than needed to contain the amount of product packaged.

IX. Submission of Labels for Approval:

A. The Inspector-in-Charge (IIC) is responsible for verifying that the establishment is maintaining a label approval file.  This file must contain current copies of all labels used by the establishment.

B. State Inspected Establishments are responsible for approving their own open faced labels, and those labels that may be generically approved per 9 CFR 412.2.

C. The following label requests must be approved by the Raleigh Office prior to use:

1. Labels for temporary approval;
2. Labels for products prepared under religious exemption;
3. Labels with special statements and claims.  Special statements and claims are explained in detail in an FSIS compliance guide that is maintained online.

Any supporting documentation required (such as documentation to substantiate a claim made on the product label) must be submitted along with MPIS Form 11.    

X. Nutritional Labeling:

Contact your assigned inspector or Area Supervisor for assistance.

USDA FSIS label web site: Labeling Policies | Food Safety and Inspection Service

NOTE: The above procedures also apply to the resubmission of a label prior to the reorder of a label to replenish depleted supply.


Part 312 of the Federal Meat Inspection Regulation shall refer to the following official North Carolina mark of inspection:

(1) The mark shall be an isosceles trapezoid with base and top lines parallel, and the top line centered over the base. The distance between the base and top lines shall be equal to the length of the top line. The proportion of these lengths shall be as follows:

Base Line Top Line Distance Between Base and Top 8 5 5

(2) The text of the mark within the border of the trapezoid shall be as follows:

(a) "INSP'D" centered along the periphery of the left hand edge;
(b) "AND" centered along the periphery of the top;
(c) "PASSED" centered along the periphery of the right hand edge;
(d) "NCDA" centered along the periphery of the bottom edge;
(e) "BY" centered immediately above the letters "NCDA";
(f) The plant designator number "P-(No.)" will be centered in the remaining space.

(3) A Height of approximately one-ninth of the vertical distance between the base and top lines shall be the lettering size for "INSP'D", "AND", "PASSED", "BY", "NCDA" as they appear in the official North Carolina mark of inspection.

(4) A height of not less than one-seventh and not greater than one-sixth of the vertical distance between the base and top lines shall be the lettering size for the plant designator number "P-(No.)" as it appears in the official North Carolina mark of inspection.

Diagram of Inspection Legend

Note: The figure along borders represent proportionate dimensions.


NCDA&CS - Meat and Poultry Inspection Division, Dr. Karen Beck, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street , Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3180; FAX: (919) 715-0246;TA Office: (919) 707-3195

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