Common Names for Meat Cuts

Common names are a direct result of extensive consumer research conducted by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association on behalf of the Beef Checkoff and the National Pork Board. The research indicated that consumers want simplified, shorter meat cut names and seek consistency between retail and foodservice channels. In 2012, the URMIS system was revamped and a Common Name standard was created; the new standard simplifies cut names, reduces unappealing terms, eliminates redundancies, and provides a unique name structure for meat cuts.

These new Common Names consist of two key components: a cut identifier or descriptor (e.g. Sirloin Tip, T-Bone, Tenderloin) and a cut form or shape (e.g. Steak, Roast, Chop, Filet).

Examples: Common Name Characteristics
  Porterhouse Steak Beef, Loin, Bone-In
  Porterhouse Chop Pork, Loin, Bone-In

Characteristics of each cut are separated from the common name and include the following:

Research showed that consumers responded most favorably when the Common Name was presented on the first line of the label, and characteristics were indicated on the second line. Consumers liked the addition of preparation suggestions, so a third line is suggested for use to display recommended preparation method and cooking tips.

  • Beef Steak Label
  • Prok Chop Label

The updated common name standard benefits the entire meat industry because it is consumer-focused and helps consumers become more confident in their knowledge about meat cuts to buy. Increased confidence in cut selection and preparation can ultimately drive purchase incentive. Use the following links to access resources for:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Following are frequently asked questions about the URMIS Common Names update:

What is URMIS?
The Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards (URMIS) program was established in 1973 by the Industry-Wide Cooperative Meat Identification Standards Committee (ICMISC). The consumer oriented identification system was developed to simplify and standardize the perplexing array of fresh meat cuts and their names.

The URMIS program, adopted by retailers, was seen as a guarantee for consumers that the same cut of meat would have the same name in every store, in every city across the country. URMIS later led to development of the U.P.C. barcodes for fresh meats.
Why were changes made? What initiated this?
The URMIS system is updated periodically to add new cut names and reduce redundancies and outdated or unappealing cut names. When the last update was made in 2005, the National Pork Board and the Beef Checkoff wanted to talk to consumers to see if anything else should be changed to make it easier for them to understand cut names. This led to the initial focus group study that took place in 2011.

It was during these focus groups that the industry realized that significant changes were needed to fresh meat nomenclature and on-pack labeling to build consumer confidence in buying and preparing fresh meat.
What are the costs?
The costs will vary depending on how a retailer is managing their in-store scale system.
  • If their scale is managed by corporate, they will need to download the new codes from, upload them into their scale management system and send them to all of their individual store scales.
  • If a retailer does not have a scale management system, they will have to enter the codes into their scales store-by-store.
    Assistance from their scale vendor will be useful.
Some retailers might need to make adjustments to their current scale label to handle two to three line descriptions. All current scales should be able to handle this. The changes to common names should not require scale replacement.
Is this mandatory?
No. URMIS has always been voluntary. However, we believe that the consumer research findings present a strong business case for retailers to implement the new nomenclature and labeling.
How time- and labor-intensive will this be?
This will vary by retailer based on their current scale vendor and their staff resources.
Did you get feedback from retailers on the new labels and names?
Yes. We worked with an advisory group of retailers and packers/processors. We also did one-on-one visits with retailers to discuss scale configurations and potential challenges they might face with the new system. The result is a program that is easy and effective to implement across the majority of retailers.
How have packers/processors been involved in this project?
See Q6.
Are any retailers using the new names? When can we expect to see these names in stores?
Some retailers have already adopted the new beef names for their pork cuts.

Otherwise, this is a brand new system that has just been developed. The Annual Meat Conference is the first introduction to the industry.

The new system still has to go through ICMISC for review and approval before it is adopted as the new URMIS standard and implemented in stores.

A conference call will take place on March 27, 2013 to review the system with ICMISC and take the vote for approval.

We expect to see the new names in stores sometime this summer.
What is the checkoff's role in implementing the URMIS updates?
Historically, the Beef Checkoff and the National Pork Board developed and managed the URMIS system for the industry. They manage URMIS and provide updates to bring to the ICMISC for approval.

These changes also go to the USDA for review, comment and approval.

We also spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the system with FSIS to ensure it meets their guidelines. The goal is to create consistency in meat nomenclature across all stores and brands, whether labeled in-store or at a case-ready facility.
Tell me more about the eye-tracking technology used in the consumer research.
This is a new technology that has never been used in fresh meat research.

The technology tracks eye movements, so we are able to see what consumers are looking at first, second and third on labels and POS materials, as well as their gaze time (amount of time spend on each element).

This research provides us the opportunity to best understand how to most effectively educate and influence consumers at the meat case.
Did any U.P.C. numbers change?
No. All of the U.P.C. numbers are the same and did not change.
Can my scales handle 3 or even 4 line descriptions?
Yes. Most scales have the ability to print labels with 3 to 4 lines and we worked closely with the top scale label companies throughout this project to ensure that retailers could seamlessly implement the best labeling practices. Check with your scale manufacturer to determine what your scale is equipped for.
My scale can only handle 26 to 32 characters per line. Did you account for this?
Yes. None of the Common Names, URMIS descriptors or ideal preparation methods contain more than 26 characters.
Did you do anything with poultry names?
No. URMIS only applies to fresh beef, pork, lamb, and veal.
What about veal and lamb names?
At this point, we have only completed the names for beef and pork cuts. We will work on lamb and veal sometime in the near future. We will let the industry know once these have been established.
How do I handle regional names?
We recommend that regional names not be used, so we can be consistent with names across different stores and channels. If you feel like a regional name is significant, we recommend you put it on an adhesive sticker to be applied separately on the package. It could also be added in parentheses at the end of the Common Name.
What about processed meats, grinds and offal products?
Processed meats, grinds and offal products are not part of this platform and have been removed from URMIS. These products tend to be labeled in packer or processor facilities, not in the retail store.
When can I start?
Following the Annual Meat Conference, we will solicit feedback on the new Common Names from anyone in the industry who would like to comment. A comment form can be found on and will be available until March 18, 2013. Following the comment period, we will consolidate the feedback, develop responses and send that information to members of the ICMISC (Industry-Wide Cooperative Meat Identification Standards Committee) for review. We will then hold an ICMISC conference call to do a final review of the comments and secure approval from the call's participants to adopt the new nomenclature and labeling practices.

A conference call will take place on March 27, 2013 to review the system with the ICMISC and take the vote for approval.

Provided the review in March goes well and we secure approval to adopt the new Common Names as the new URMIS standard, we anticipate making the beef and pork Common Names available to the industry in April 2013.
Do you have any employee training materials available?
Yes. Employee training materials are available on You can also contact your beef or pork representative at the Beef Checkoff or the National Pork Board for further assistance.