Institutional Meat Purchase Specification Overview

The Institutional Meat Purchase Specification (IMPS) are a series of meat product specifications. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) department of the USDA maintains IMPS to ensure identification consistency and facilitate industry trade. Packers, processors, distributors, retailers, restaurants, and government agencies use IMPS for production standards, meat procurement, receiving specifications, and supply chain product identification. Changes to IMPS are conducted through a voluntary consensus by industry stakeholders; this ensures IMPS reflects the needs of the market place.

IMPS provides product specifications for fresh meat wholesale and foodservice cuts. The fresh meat products are based on the meat species of beef, pork, lamb, veal, and goat. The specifications are science-based and uses the anatomical skeletal structure, and physiological characteristics to identify carcasses, sides, quarters, primals, sub-primals, and wholesale cuts. From the primals, subprimals, and wholesale cuts, smaller portion cuts, single muscles and retail cuts are identified. Each IMPS item is defined with standardized traits such as skeletal location, size, muscle structure, and trim standards. Each IMPS item is uniquely identified with a IMPS Number, and Description. Purchaser Specified Options (PSOs) allow further customization of items such as trim specs, bone length/amount, and other cutting characteristics. Additionally, IMPS provides standards for ordering, aging, abbreviations, added ingredients, grades, refrigeration requirements, fat limitations, weight, shape and thickness of cuts. Most wholesale cases of fresh beef, pork, lamb, and veal from USDA inspected facilities have the IMPS number and description on the box label.

IMPS and the Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards (URMIS) are the accepted fresh meat nomenclature standards used in the U.S. meat industry. IMPS and URMIS were developed for specific meat industry sectors, thus have similarities and differences. IMPS is the foundation and gateway for cuts approved for the Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards (URMIS). Recent IMPS updates include the corresponding URMIS descriptions and unique 4-digit Universal Product Code (UPC) cross-referenced and included with the IMPS Numbers and Descriptions.

For more information on IMPS go to the Agricultural Marketing Service website @