The United States and Canada on Monday announced an agreement to harmonize the terminology used for wholesale meat cuts.
Under the agreement, both countries will adopt the U.S. Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications as the standard meat nomenclature.
"Adopting a common trade language is beneficial to industry on both sides of the border, and will enhance trade and opportunities for American producers," said USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Anne Alonzo in a USDA statement. "Meat production in the U.S. and Canada is highly integrated, and this will benefit industry by reducing costs of maintaining separate inventories, and facilitate the efficient trade with our Canadian partners."
As of Feb. 24, 2014, selected meat cut names can be used interchangeably with their Canadian equivalent. Consumers will largely not be impacted, as the change only applies to wholesale cuts of meat.
"Our government recognizes that the North American livestock industry is based on the integration of Canadian and U.S. sectors and this initiative will render benefits for stakeholders on both sides of the border," Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, noted in a press statement.
Currently, trade between the two countries can be hindered due to cut names and labeling requirements. The Canadian meat classification system is based on a regulatory document known as the Meat Cuts Manual. The United States uses the IMPS, a set of voluntary standards maintained by AMS.
Large volume purchasers such as Federal, state and local government agencies, schools, restaurants, hotels, and other food service users reference the IMPS when purchasing meat products. While both documents have many similarities in the cut descriptions and names, they are not inclusive and omit certain cuts with differing names.
The action is part of the work completed by the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council, which was created in early 2011 to accelerate trade and travel between the two nations.
The RCC goal was to establish clear, consistent standards to identify products to make it easier for industries to do business on both sides of the border, USDA says.
Though the announcement reflects changes for wholesale cuts only, the naming agreement of meat products on retail shelves has also been considered in recent years.
Last April, the National Pork Board and Beef Checkoff Program introduced updated Uniform Retail Meat Identification Standards naming for fresh beef and pork cuts. The review and re-naming was based on consumer research and eye-tracking data.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation has previously tried to help bridge the international naming gap between the U.S. and more than 30 other countries with the release of its international nomenclature guide.