Skip to main content

Labelling Meat as an Ingredient

What can be labelled as 'meat' in the list of ingredients?

Annex VII Part B to Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers restricts the definition of “meat” to the skeletal attached muscles only. Therefore, any other parts of the animal for human consumption other than skeletal attached muscles such as heart, liver, kidney, tongue or even fat must be declared separately in the list of ingredients.

The species from which the meat came must also be declared. If the species name is being used, such as poultry, porcine, ovine, the name must be followed by the word “meat”, e.g., poultry meat. However, the legislation allows for the generic name to be used on the product label such as chicken, pork, lamb, and in this case the word “meat” can be omitted.

What types of products might you see meat in as an ingredient?

Typical products would include chicken nuggets, burgers, sausages, salamis, pies, pasties, wraps and goujons. You would not see meat listed as an ingredient where meat is sold without further processing, such as steaks, chops and cutlets or anatomical parts such as ribs, chicken wings, and chicken legs. Also, cuts of meat and anatomical parts which are processed but in which the anatomical structure is still recognisable, e.g., cooked roast chicken breast, would not have the meat content indicated.

Does the definition of meat include fat and connective tissue?

A certain amount of fat and connective tissue is allowed for in the definition of ‘meat’, i.e., the fat and connective tissue that adheres to the muscles. This is subject to certain limits which are laid down in the legislation as follows:

Species Fat (%)  Collagen/meat protein ratio * (%)
Mammals (other than rabbits and porcines) and mixtures of species with mammals predominating 25 25
Porcines 30 25
Birds and Rabbits 15 10

*The collagen/meat protein ratio is expressed as a percentage of the collagen in meat protein. The collagen content means the hydroxyproline content multiplied by a factor of 8.

What if the levels of fat and/or collagen/meat protein ratio in my product exceed the limits set out in the legislation?

If the maximum limits are exceeded but all other criteria for the definition of 'meat' are satisfied, the '... meat' content must be adjusted downwards accordingly and the list of ingredients must mention, in addition to the term '... meat', the presence of fat and/or connective tissue.

How do I calculate the meat content of my product?

See instructions on the calculation of meat content. Please note that whilst the calculation examples given are still valid, the legislation referred to has been replaced by Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. Annex VII, Part B should be consulted for the current rules on declaring meat as an ingredient.

When using bacon as an ingredient in a product, how is the calculation carried out?

As there are no values (% protein, % connective tissue, % fat, % collagen) for bacon given in the tables in Appendix 3 of Guidance Note No.14, bacon cannot be included in the meat content calculation. Therefore, if bacon is used, the percentage bacon should be given separately in the list of ingredients.

How should mutton as an ingredient be labelled?

When labelling mutton as an ingredient in a meat based product, it must be labelled as either the species name, i.e., sheep meat or by the generic name, i.e., mutton. It cannot be labelled as lamb.