Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards

Table of Contents

Table of Figures


In 1972 the Industry-Wide Cooperative Meat Identification Standards Committee (ICMISC) was created to formulate and promote a uniform national meat identity standard program for the retail meat segment. The founders of Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards (URMIS) recognized that participation by industry experts and users of the system would be essential. A key element of URMIS is to use the ICMISC to get a consensus from the users on any decision related to changes and improvements to the system. This provides integrity, visibility and transparency to the system. The ICMISC is a consortium of retailers, suppliers, government agencies, and industry professionals. The committee operates as an organized democratic platform that sanctions the development and implementation of the URMIS system.

Today the ICMISC is the watch group that maintains the integrity and consistency of the URMIS system. Based on "the consumer's right to know" what he or she is buying and to reduce confusion, the ICMISC approves meat cut names and makes suggestions to assure that the URMIS system reflects the current needs of the marketplace. Additionally, the ICMISC represents the meat industry in identifying and prioritizing significant information and data required for appropriate coding, standardization and tracking of meat products.

The current ICMISC has been instrumental in developing this set of URMIS recommendations that will aid the industry in moving forward with efforts to serve the consumer's best interests. This critical work could not have been undertaken without a cohesive and far-reaching joint effort involving retailers, suppliers, government agencies, commodity groups, and other volunteers.

Industry-Wide Cooperative Meat Identification Standards Committee Voting Members

  • A & P Metro
  • American Association of Meat Processors
  • Ahold USA
  • Albertsons LLC
  • American Meat Institute
  • Associated Wholesale Grocers
  • Bashas' Markets, Inc.
  • Big Y
  • BJ's Wholesale
  • Bozzuto's
  • Brookshire Brothers
  • Brookshire Grocery Co.
  • Cargill
  • Colorado State University
  • Costco
  • Farmer John
  • Farmland Foods
  • Fiesta Mart Inc.
  • Food Lion
  • Giant Carlisle
  • Giant Eagle
  • HAC, Inc.
  • Hannaford
  • Harris Teeter
  • HEB
  • Hormel
  • JBS Swift
  • Kroger
  • Lowe's/Alex Lee
  • Marsh Supermarkets, LLC.
  • Meijer, Inc.
  • Mettler Toledo
  • Niman Ranch
  • North American Meat Processors Association
  • National Beef
  • North American Meat Association
  • Price Chopper
  • Publix Super Markets, Inc.
  • Raley's
  • Rosen Lamb
  • Roundy's, Inc.
  • Safeway, Inc.
  • Sam's Club
  • Save Mart
  • Schnucks
  • Smart & Final
  • Smithfield
  • Spartan Stores, Inc.
  • Stater Bros.
  • Stop & Shop/Giant
  • Superior Farms
  • Supervalu, Inc.
  • Target Stores
  • Texas A&M
  • Tops
  • Tyson
  • Wakefern Food Corporation
  • Wal-Mart, Inc.
  • Wegmans
  • Weis
  • Whole Foods
  • Winn-Dixie
  • Yerecic Label


Since the inception of the URMIS in 1973, there have been many changes in all segments of the meat industry.

Larger meat animals are being produced that make merchandising some cuts of meat more difficult. This has lead to extensive research on new muscle separation techniques and identification of new cuts.

Changes in the packer/supplier segment include adoption of high-capacity production systems and the migration in carcass production to close-trimmed sub-primals and case-ready products. Today, more retail cut nomenclature and labeling activities are being done by the packer/supplier segment.

Retailers have seen their share of changes as well. When URMIS was implemented, a typical retail meat department would do 20-to-30 percent of the total store sales, and the retail segment controlled over 80 percent of total meat sales. Most of the meat nomenclature that consumers could relate to was controlled by retailers, and meat nomenclature dominated the scale label. Over time higher labor costs, higher facility expenses and consumer preferences have transformed the entire retail meat department including the scale label. Many regulatory requirements share the labeling space with retail cut nomenclature today.

Over the last thirty years, consumption of meat in the foodservice segment has increased dramatically. Restaurant menus describe meat cuts in new compelling ways. Television has steered consumers to cooking shows with entertaining chefs describing meat cuts by preparation methods rather than the meat cut nomenclature found on scale labels in supermarkets.

In recent years, the Public Health Security and Bioterrorisom act of 2002 has driven new standards and technology for tracking and tracing meat products. An essential component of these standards is product identification. This adds importance to the role meat cut standards fulfill within the industry.

All segments of the meat supply chain continue to evolve to meet consumers' needs. Consumers today are less knowledgeable about meat nomenclature and struggle with cooking and preparing meat. Confusion from the wide array of names used to describe meat cuts and the lack of consumers' knowledge about preparing meat products has placed a new emphasis on understanding today's consumer.

In 2012 consumer research was conducted by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the beef checkoff, and the National Pork Board (NPB). The results from the consumer research raised the need to review current meat cut nomenclature to determine if it appropriately supported consumer needs. It was ultimately determined that in order to be useful to consumers shopping for and preparing fresh meat products, the URMIS system required a major overhaul. The resulting updated standard will serve as a platform for all meat segments to move toward a more consumer-friendly meat nomenclature system and adopt business practices that are focused on the consumer.

Purpose of this Document

The meat industry faces many consumer challenges. Research conducted on meat cut nomenclature confirmed consumers are confused, and meat cut terms lack meaning for them. Consumers said they want simplified and shorter names.

In the U.S., retailer scale labels, signs, ads and restaurant menus all communicate meat cut nomenclature. Each company within each segment competes and is looking for creative ways to differentiate their product offerings. Creative names are a common practice in the meat industry and cause much of the confusion with consumers.

Today the internet has promulgated terms used to describe meat cut nomenclature. This technology has exposed the inconsistent and massive amount of misinformation available to the public.

The Federal Meat Inspection Act provides broad jurisdiction over labeling meat products. There are no regulatory standards of identity in Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) regulations that prescribe the names for individual meat cuts sold at retail. Therefore, URMIS standards are relied upon by industry for accurately and appropriately naming meat cuts to promote consistency and is one way to meet FSIS labeling requirements for the naming of single-ingredient meat products under 9 CFR 317.2.

Consumer confusion from the wide array of names used to describe meat cuts and the transition of the industry to more case-ready, fresh meat cuts enhance the need to collaborate more closely with the regulatory agencies. This new effort will ensure that the entire industry has one standard for meat cut nomenclature. Long term, this will improve meat demand because the consumer is the primary beneficiary.

The increased focus on food safety and traceability also raises the need to adopt standards that will aid the meat industry in identifying products so they can be traced throughout the supply chain.

The primary purpose of this document is to provide all U.S. meat industry participants with an updated URMIS Standard to adopt and implement.

Development of this standard was supported by NPB and NCBA, working closely with the USDA, Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) and FSIS to develop standards that are applicable to current regulations.

Use of this Document

The primary use of this document is intended for retailers, packers/processors, wholesalers and foodservice operators that are responsible for identifying meat cuts and implementing meat cut nomenclature in their company's operations and systems. The document could also be used by regulatory agencies, customer service associates, scale equipment manufacturers, standards organizations, academics and students.

Users of this document should ensure they understand specific regulatory and local requirements for the markets and in the states they serve.

Permission to reproduce this document is granted providing it is not altered or used for the intent of creating content that is misleading, defamatory, infringing, libelous, disparaging, obscene or otherwise objectionable to the participating associations and organizations.

Scope of this Document

URMIS is applicable to all segments in the U.S. meat industry including retailers, packers/processors, wholesalers and foodservice operators.

URMIS applies to red meats only, i.e. beef, pork, lamb and veal products.

The URMIS System introduced in 1973 provided labeling guidelines for meat cuts, ground meats, processed meats, smoked meats and variety meats. At the time, all of these products were being labeled in retailers' stores. Case-ready products were in their infancy.

In 1973, meat carcasses were utilized for fresh meat cuts by some retailers. Most retailers utilized primal cuts because sub-primal cuts were still evolving. Ground meat supplies were transforming from whole muscle product into course ground tubes. Most hams, sausage, smoked meats, corned beef and variety meats were received in bulk cases and packaged and labeled in retailers' stores. The below pyramid shows the product types that were used when URMIS was developed in 1973.

1973 URMIS Product Pyramid - Figure 1 1973 URMIS Product Pyramid

Branded case-ready products have evolved over the years, and today most processed products are being produced case-ready by suppliers. Suppliers apply for label approval through the FSIS. Label approval requires the supplier identify and provide a name for the product. Most of these products require nutrition information as well. Most processed products are produced under federal inspection.

Due to the transition of processed products to supplier controlled labels, processed products are no longer included in URMIS. Processed products are defined as products that have been subject to one or more further manufacturing processes such as being cooked, dried, cured, ground, or reformed. This includes the following product categories:

  • Ground
  • Ham
  • Corned beef
  • Sausage

A list of processed product names (including ground products) will continue to be maintained (see MeatTrack.com section). The list incorporates names that are approved in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) or listed in the Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book.

Variety meats (offal) are no longer included in URMIS. The names for internal organs and external parts of meat animals are clear and defined. A list of common names for variety meats will continue to be maintained (see MeatTrack.com section).

In its revised format, URMIS includes minimally processed fresh meat cuts. Minimally processed cuts are defined by URMIS as products that have not been subject to any further manufacturing process such as being cooked, dried, cured, ground or reformed. Products may be sliced, diced, or mechanically tenderized.

New processes that enhance meat products have evolved over recent years. Solutions and enhancers are incorporated into meat products by injecting, basting or tumbling. This process adds flavoring and marinade to meat cuts. More meat cuts are being further prepared with additions like breading, stuffing or enhanced with topical additives. These new processes add convenience to meat cuts that solve the time dilemma for consumers.

Meat cuts that incorporate solutions and additions are included in URMIS. These cuts will require that the appropriate ingredient label and "containing" statement be used.

The USDA maintains the Institutional Meat Purchase Specification (IMPS) that provides identification and descriptions for all the wholesale cuts. IMPS is the only comprehensive purchasing document maintained by the USDA. Many of the wholesale cuts of meat have historically been included in URMIS. Going forward, sub-primal cuts that are being offered to consumers will continue to be maintained in URMIS. Carcasses, primal cuts and wholesale cuts that are not typically sold to consumers will no longer be included in URMIS. This will eliminate duplication between the two systems.

The below pyramid summarizes which organization is in charge of managing label content for each product type.

Label Jurisdiction - Figure 2 Label Jurisdiction

Animal characteristics are excluded from URMIS. The system was never intended to provide any type of identification for animal characteristics or production claims. Animal characteristics that are not included in the URMIS system are summarized below.

Animal Characteristics Chart

Item attributes related to a retail cut, typically used in procurement, pricing, and marketing, are excluded from URMIS. Confusing attributes with retail cut names can happen due to the overlap of Universal Product Code (U.P.C.) number assignments and descriptions that are being used to track package sizes, brands, refrigeration and preservation attributes. Item attributes that are not included in the URMIS system are summarized below.

Item Attributes Chart


The foundation on which the URMIS system is based includes the following:

  • Three meat animals - cattle, hogs and sheep
  • The anatomical structure of meat animals
  • Similarities of meat animals in shape, bones, fat deposits and muscle structure
  • Structure of carcasses, quarters, primals, wholesale cuts, sub-primals and retail cuts
  • Common location of the primal on the carcass
  • Tenderness related to primal location and muscle usage
  • Meat science dealing with facts and truths
  • Definitions
  • Labeling program


The URMIS system was developed to provide a retail meat cut identification system and a standardized nomenclature for every retail red meat item (beef, pork, lamb and veal). Before the advancement of URMIS, a specific retail cut may have had several different names depending on the store or region of the country in which it was sold.

In 1973 when work on the URMIS system began, well over 1,000 different names had been given to the then 315 retail cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb. The goal of URMIS was to eliminate consumer confusion caused by the proliferation of names used to describe retail meat cuts. The URMIS program adopted by food stores was seen as a guarantee for consumers that the same retail cut of meat would have the same name in every store and in every city across the country.


URMIS was established on the following principles:

  • The "Consumer's Right to Know"
  • Reduce and eliminate confusion at the meat case
  • Establish a universal language of meat cuts
  • Truth in labeling
  • A uniform label format for the:
    • Kind of meat
    • Primal
    • Retail cut
  • An informed consumer will:
    • Become a better meat consumer
    • Take advantage of various merchandising programs
  • Include recommended cookery methods for each retail cut
  • Provide tools for the consumer and industry to better understand value

Uniform Label

About 60 years ago, retailers sold meat cuts from a service meat counter only. To weigh meat or get a price, a store employee would place a retail cut of fresh meat on a scale; the price was then written on the package of wrapped meat. Over time retailers migrated from service meat cases to self-service meat cases; meat then had to be placed in meat trays and wrapped. With this advancement came the use of pre-pack scales and labeling systems.

The scale label brought about many changes regarding meat labeling. The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act was passed that established package labeling requirements to help consumers get accurate information on the net quantity of the contents of packages, the product name, the name and place of business.

The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1967 provided the framework for what would appear on a scale label. Inconsistencies with product names and the application of the name on the label created consumer confusion. Solving this confusion led to the Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards. URMIS provided the specific standard that properly identified the product, prescribed the name of the product and the placement of the name on the scale label.

The largest volume of meat sold in the U.S. passes through wrapping machinery which weighs, prices and labels each retail cut. In most supermarkets, the packages pass over an electronic scanner at the checkout which reads that label.

There are numerous brands of scales and scanning equipment. Regardless of the brand or type of labeling equipment, the basic nomenclature used on the label for every retail cut should be the same. This approved meat identity labeling tells customers at a glance exactly what is in the package.

Reference the Scale Label Recommendation section for the updated recommendation.

Cookery Relationship

With such a large variety of meat cuts available to today's consumer, providing cookery methods is important. Many shoppers, especially beginner or younger shoppers, are confused with the amount of meat cuts available as well as how to prepare them. Shoppers oftentimes stick with the retail cuts they are familiar with and steer away from any new retail cuts, as they feel comfortable preparing what they know. Also, if a consumer prepares a retail cut incorrectly, they will often decide against buying the retail cut again.

By including suggestions for cookery methods, the consumer will feel more confident in purchasing a wider variety of retail cuts. Also, consumers who have more information on how to better prepare the product should be more successful with it, resulting in a satisfied consumer. Although meat cuts can be cooked a number of ways, it is clear certain preparation methods are better for certain retail cuts to provide a more satisfactory experience.

Cooking a meat cut can affect the tenderness, juiciness and flavor of that cut. Using the simple rule of preparing less tender cuts with moist heat and more tender cuts with dry heat is a good start to assist the consumer; however, there are exceptions to the rule. The quality of a retail cut can also affect the eating quality; a higher-quality, less tender cut may be somewhat tender with a dry heat preparation method.

The location of a primal cut is a good indication of how tender a specific meat cut is expected to be and how it should best be prepared. Retail cuts that come from the more heavily exercised area of the animal are generally less tender and require a moist cookery method. The cooking method selected for a retail cut depends on the tenderness of the meat.

The relationship of cookery to the identification system has always been included in URMIS. Reference the Ideal Preparation Method section for the updated recommendation.


Price is one part of the value relationship used by consumers in their meat purchase decision. Consumers discern the value of meat products in terms of benefits such as convenience, quality and taste. Products are purchased when their prices are justified by the perceived benefits. URMIS includes the best preparation method, which considers tenderness and leanness, enhancing the potential for success in meat preparation, thus enhancing value.

URMIS paved the way for value-based marketing in the meat industry. Identifying and naming meat cuts gave the industry the basic foundation to build on. The URMIS structure provides the system to differentiate products so new cuts and trim methods can be analyzed and adopted.

U.P.C. numbers coded to the URMIS nomenclature provide the system for tracking sales and using sales data for decision making. Making decisions based on what is actually sold has given the entire supply chain the information needed to evaluate and react to consumer trends.

Identification System

The purpose of URMIS was to provide an identification system that would reduce consumer confusion due to the lack of uniformity in names of meat cuts and standards for labeling those retail cuts.

The original URMIS identification system was a scientific approach that was related to the anatomical and physiological structure of the animal. The identification system was used to help the "professional meat man" behind the counter teach consumers how to identify meat cuts by shape and appearance and relate it to the name on the scale label. Familiarity with skeletal and other anatomical characteristics and the similarities among the different classes of meat animals were very helpful when communicating with shoppers.

URMIS is used in identification systems throughout the entire supply chain. The importance of food safety and traceability has placed more emphasis on the identification of products. Tracking and tracing products starts with identifying the product based on a standard. URMIS is the industry standard for identifying meat cuts.

Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications

Identifying and determining the nomenclature for meat cuts starts with the larger wholesale cuts. The language, descriptions and standards used for those wholesale cuts are based on IMPS.

The USDA through AMS, Standardization and Technology Division oversees and maintains the Institutional Meat Purchase Specification (IMPS). The complete IMPS series includes the following documents:

IMPS Standards - Figure 5
Fresh Beef Series 100
Fresh Lamb and Mutton Series 200
Fresh Veal Series 300
Fresh Pork Series 400
Cured, Cured and Smoked, and Fully Cooked Pork Products Series 500
Cured, Dried, and Smoked Beef Products Series 600
Variety Meats and By-Products Series 700

Originally designed for the institutional segment, IMPS has become the industry standard for procurement of meat products used in retail. Additionally, AMS uses IMPS as a gateway for admission of meat cuts to be approved by the USDA FSIS. AMS and FSIS rely on URMIS as the source for meat cut nomenclature.

Since its inception, AMS has used the URMIS system to ensure the industry provides the clear standards needed for labeling retail meat cuts. The IMPS and URMIS systems serve separate yet integrated roles for the meat industry.

Meat Anatomy

It is recognized that most retail and foodservice meat handlers possess a limited knowledge of the anatomy of meat cuts. This section provides a cursory introduction to meat cutting principles and meat anatomy to help understand the principles behind URMIS.

The same basic principles of cutting meat products are used for primal, sub-primal and retail cuts:

  • Separate tender areas from less tender portions.
  • Separate lean areas from portions that have greater amounts of fat.
  • Separate thicker, more heavily muscled portions of the carcass from thin-muscled areas.
  • Cut across the grain whenever possible, perpendicular to the predominant direction of the muscle fibers.

Early in the marketing chain at the packing/processing plant, meat is divided into primal or wholesale cuts. There is a system of standardized primals for each meat class. There are seven basic primal (wholesale) cuts, most of which can be identified by either or both bone and muscle shape. The seven basic cuts are:

  • Shoulder/Chuck Arm
  • Shoulder/Chuck Blade
  • Rib
  • Loin (Short Loin)
  • Sirloin
  • Leg/Fresh Ham/Round
  • Breast/Brisket/Plate

A meat primal from the same location on different animal classes is usually comparable in shape, due to the similarities in bone, muscle and fat deposition. Primals of beef are larger than the corresponding primal for pork, lamb and veal.

Primal and Bone Structure of Beef
Bones and ribs play a major role in the fabrication and marketing of primals. Traditionally ribs are counted from the front-to-back, and the separation of sides, quarters and primals are established on specific ribs. For example, a beef chuck contains ribs 1-5, and the rib primal contains ribs 6-12. The 13th rib is at the front of the beef primal loin.

Beef Carcass Structure - Figure 6 Beef Carcass

Primal and Bone Structure of Pork
The method for cutting pork carcasses is relatively universal across the country, though some changes can occur due to the type of animal and marketing conditions at the time. For example, spareribs can include more or less ribs depending on the break used by a specific packer.

Pork Carcass Structure – Figure 7 Pork Carcass

Primal and Bone Structure of Lamb
A lamb carcass may be divided into sides, split through the center of the backbone or divided into foresaddle (unsplit front half) and hindsaddle (unsplit rear half). The shoulder is obtained by separating the foresaddle into the portion containing the shoulder and the portion containing the rib. The lamb loin is comparable to the beef loin and includes the 13th rib. The leg includes both the sirloin and the leg.

Lamb Carcass Structure - Figure 8 Lamb Carcass

Primal and Bone Structure of Veal
Veal carcass sizes can vary considerably. Young veal, also called bob veal is a relatively small part of the total veal distributed. Most veal being raised is special-fed or milk-fed. Larger carcasses are usually halved and then quartered, while smaller carcasses are apt to be divided into foresaddle and hindsaddle. The illustration below indicates the method and system of nomenclature for primal and sub-primal cuts used in URMIS.

Veal Carcass Structure - Figure 9 Veal Carcass

Sub-primals are the smaller cuts taken from the larger primal cuts. An example is a beef round that is split into a top round, bottom round, eye of round and sirloin tip. Retail cuts like roasts, steaks and chops are derived from the sub-primal cut.

Very seldom do primals of meat go to the retail store, and boxed beef has become the norm for retailers. At the packing or processing plant, primal cuts are divided into sub-primals for ease of handling and to allow for efficient marketing of all the cuts in the animal. Closer-trimmed sub-primals result in less trimming time and provide a value to retailers.

Over the past three decades, more boneless sub-primal cuts have become available and are being marketed by retailers. A number of boneless sub-primals are available for merchandising in their original vacuum packages.

Individual Muscles (Single Muscle)
Over the years, meat animals have become larger; this has made merchandising larger cuts of meat more difficult due to the package size and total price of the larger cuts. Recently, new initiatives looked at the under-utilized cuts from the lower-priced chuck/shoulder and round/leg. Through muscle separation, a number of individual muscles (IMs) were identified and tested. Many of the IMs are now marketed by packers, processors, retailers and foodservice operators.

Color and Fat Characteristics
To identify meat according to its class origin, difference in the muscle color and fat color, texture and firmness may be used. The below chart lists the distinguishing characteristics of different kinds of meat.

Distinguishing Characteristics of Meat by Class - Figure 10
Class Lean Meat Color Fat Characteristics
Beef Bright, Cherry-Red White or creamy-white and firm.
Veal Light Pink Bob veal has little or no fat cover. Special fed veal has white fat.
Pork (Fresh) Grayish-Pink
(Cured) Rose
Characteristically white. The fat in pork is softer because it is relatively higher in unsaturated fatty acids.
Lamb Pinkish-Red White, brittle, rather dense, sometimes covered with the fell, a colorless connective tissue membrane. The fat is harder than the fat in other meat because it is higher in saturated fatty acids.

This section is meant to be a short introduction to meat anatomy as it relates to meat cuts that are derived from the larger primal, sub-primal and IMs. There are many other factors related to anatomy that are not discussed in this section.


The system and discipline used for URMIS can best be visualized and described as a two-part hierarchy, from large to small.

URMIS Hierarchy - Figure 11 URMIS Hierarchy

The first part of the hierarchy is used to designate the following:

  • Top level is the class (beef, pork, lamb and veal)
  • Second level is the primal that is derived from the carcass of the class
  • Third level is the sub-primal or individual muscle that is derived from the primal
  • Fourth level is the retail cut that is derived from the sub-primal or individual muscle

The second part of the hierarchy is used to designate the cuts characteristics for:

  • Form
  • Bone
  • Cutting Standard
URMIS Component Definitions - Figure 12
Class Products from mature animals of the genus Bos (Beef), products from young animals of the genus Bos (Veal), products from young animals of the genus Ovis (Lamb), products from young animals of the genus Sus (Pork).
Primal Basic major cuts into which carcasses and sides are separated based on IMPS.
Sub-Primals The cuts taken from the larger primal cuts, as when the Round is split into Top Round, Bottom Round, Eye Round and Sirloin Tip, based on IMPS.
Individual Muscle (IM) Composed of one single muscle identified by a scientific name.
Retail Cut A unique item derived from a sub-primal, IM or minor primal; packaged, labeled and sold to consumers in refrigerated cases by retail food stores and meat specialty shops.
Form (Shape) The appearance of meat products as a result of cutting or processing for consumption. A form of a whole muscle meat cut is steak, roasts, chops etc. Shapes of processed products are pattie, link, bulk etc. Half, quarter and portion are smaller pieces of a whole undivided, unsliced piece.
Bone The presence or absence of bone in the cut.
Cutting Standards Cutting methods that improve the desirability of meat cuts (thick, thin, butterflied etc.) Reference Figure 24 Characteristics

The nomenclature is primarily based on science but also includes traditional identification terms that have been used in the industry. Values used in the nomenclature are specific and defined.

Anatomical Names

Retail cuts frequently have the same names as the wholesale cut from which they come. In some instances the names of the wholesale cuts indicate their location on the carcass, like shoulder, loin and leg primals (Figure 13). Other names indicate the location on a sub-primal like top, bottom and eye (Figure 14). A few names indicate the shape of the cut like round and tri-tip. Since this group of names is related to the body structure, they are characterized as anatomical.

Carcass Cut Locations - Figure 13 Carcass Cut Locations
Sub-Primal Location of Cuts - Figure 14 Sub-Primal Location of Cuts

Bone Names

The names of a number of retail cuts are related to the bone structure. For instance, ribs provide the names for ribeye, short ribs and back ribs. Other retail cuts named from bones include arm, blade, spareribs and T-Bones. Bones show the location of retail cuts and also are a clue to a cut's tenderness. The supporting muscles along the back bone are generally more tender than those in the shoulders, chucks, legs and rounds. Consequently, the cuts along the backbone are considered most tender.

Bone Names - Figure 15
Shoulder Arm Cuts Arm Bone Arm Bone
Shoulder Blade Cuts Blade Bone Blade Bone
Rib Cuts Back Bone and Rib Bone Back Bone and Rib Bone
Short Loin Cuts Back Bone (T-Shape) T-Bone Back Bone (T-Shape) T-Bone
Sirloin Cuts Flat Bone Flat Bone
Leg or Round Cuts Leg or Round Bone Leg or Round Bone
Breast, or Brisket Cuts Breast and Rib Bone Breast and Rib Bone

Traditional Names

Traditional names are non-anatomical names that are widely accepted and recognized by consumers and the industry. These names are memorable and popular with consumers. Examples are Porterhouse, Crown and Rack.

Rib cut styles like country and flanken are also approved as traditional names.

Value Added Names

The principles of cutting meat products described in the Meat Anatomy section provide guidelines for producing retail cuts as well as the remaining pieces of meat that are not used for retail cuts. Example: separating the tender from less tender portions and lean areas from portions that have greater amounts of fat result in higher value such as kabobs and stew meat. Due to convenience, kabobs, stew meat, cubes, dices and strips are popular with consumers. Cube steaks are a staple to many consumers.

The value added nomenclature is related to the form and shape of the product and the mechanical cubed process that the product has endured.

Value Added Cuts - Figure 16 Value Added Cuts

System Updates

Since 1973 there have been a number of updates to URMIS. The updates supported industry advances in technology, cost reduction strategies, better product mix management, advances in consumer marketing programs and improved food safety by tracking and tracing products more effectively.

Scanning technology evolved, and the retail industry adopted the U.P.C. that paved the way for collecting sales data. Before scanners, retailers had no effective way of accurately measuring the amount of a specific product that was sold during any period or how much it sold for.

Efficient Consumer Response provided timely, accurate information to match consumer demand to the supplier. This strategy reduced cost from the supply chain and placed a focus on providing consumers with the products they want, where they want them, at a fair price.

Category Management focused on managing categories as strategic business units, producing enhanced business results by focusing on delivering consumer value.

Branding meat products continue to gain momentum that provides more opportunities for differentiating and marketing products.

Tracking products advanced to traceability due to new regulations and food safety challenges.

Universal Product Code

U.P.C. Identification - Figure 17 U.P.C. Identification

In October of 1984, through the efforts of the National Live Stock and Meat Board (NLSMB), the Food Marketing Institute(FMI) and the American Meat Institute (AMI), a guideline for assigning random weight identification numbers was recognized by the Uniform Code Council (UCC). The guideline for random weight meat was based on a list of numbers submitted by the meat industry.

The U.P.C. numbers provide a standardized numbering system for all retail random weight cuts of meat. All U.P.C. numbers for random weight meat items were coded to correspond with the URMIS system of meat cut identification. This provides the framework for identifying meat items across all stores, companies and regions allowing retailers to access valuable sales and inventory information from scan data.

The primary objective was to expand the U.P.C. structure so that every organization in the U.S. could readily adapt it to its own merchandising program. U.P.C. numbers were added for the following:

  • All the approved retail cuts
  • All package sizes (Regular, AP1, AP2)
  • Cutting standards (thick, thin, butterflied etc.)
  • IMPS descriptions and numbers
  • Primals
  • Sub-primals
  • Extra codes (XC)

1995 Publication

1995 Publication - Figure 18 1995 Publication

The updated URMIS manual was published by the NLSMB for the ICMISC. The publication focused on retailers with an emphasis on implementing the URMIS program at store level. The manual laid out the entire program in detail intended for use by retail executives, meat department managers and in-store personnel. Topics included the following:

  • Basics of URMIS identification, nomenclature, labeling and cookery
  • Current trends in marketing of meats at the retail counter
  • New approved retail cuts
  • Use of the U.P.C. numbers to track items by retail cut
  • A more consumer-friendly identification system
  • Value-Based Meat Management
  • Food safety
  • Nutritional labeling
  • Updated photos

Universal Product Code Addendum

Conversion Worksheet Manual - Figure 19 Conversion Worksheet Manual

An initiative to support retailers with the adoption of a standard URMIS / U.P.C. structure was started in 1996. A barrier to adoption was the limited ranges of U.P.C. numbers needed for all categories. A complete review of the structure was completed, and ranges of U.P.C. numbers were added for processed, specialty and service case products. The new structure included expanded ranges to accommodate branding. The addendum to the original U.P.C. publication provided the structure for identifying all meat items across the entire meat department. The addendum was published as a manual that retailers could use to convert to the standard URMIS / U.P.C structure.

2003 Publication

2003 Publication - Figure 20 2003 Publication

The growth and use of personal computers and new media technology, coupled with a revision, moved URMIS to a CD-ROM in 2003. This introduced the URMIS user to a whole new, easy way to navigate the standard. New regulations mandating tracing products placed a new emphasis on food safety. Reduced Space Symbology for variable measure meats was introduced along with a vision for how it could improve the entire industry.

A renewed emphasis was placed on URMIS identification, nomenclature, labeling and cookery. New retail cuts that were derived from individual muscles were approved and included into the system. Redundancies in the nomenclature were addressed and revised, and a new cuts approval process was introduced.

A focus of the 2003 publication, Effective Meat Case Management, addressed the following:

  • Category management
  • Scanning
  • Inventory control
  • Advertising
  • Product mix

For over 30 years URMIS has supported important industry initiatives and continues to evolve to meet consumer and industry needs.

2014 System Update

The 2014 update actually started in 2010. The primary goal for the update was to improve the system for consumers. The update also included the following goals:

  • Support the original URMIS foundation and purpose
  • Support innovative merchandising techniques and names
  • Incorporate changes made in product merchandising
  • Incorporate changes made in regulatory labeling
  • Determine if the system could be integrated with foodservice
  • Improve the system for adding new retail cuts and names
  • Ensure uniqueness with item identification

The system update was based on consumer research. In addition to consumer research, the update included the following:

  • A complete review of current carcass, primal and sub-primal processing
  • A complete review of current retail cuts and the U.P.C. numbering system
  • New retail cuts and merchandising techniques
  • Regulatory and labeling changes
  • Scale label usage and standards
  • Foodservice and culinary cut names
  • Cookery and preparation terminology
  • Methods used to communicate cookery and preparation to consumers

Consumer Research

Consumer research included feedback from consumers about challenges they have when purchasing and preparing red meat cuts, including a review of meat terms and definitions. The primary goal of the research was to identify consumer issues with red meat products and create solutions to eliminate the issues.

The findings from the consumer research were helpful to start the common naming system. Most consumers are unfamiliar with and confused about all the various retail cuts in the meat case, causing them to stay in their comfort zone and to make purchase decisions based on familiar aspects like price, appearance, expiration date and familiar retail cuts. The typical consumer purchases only the same three or four retail cuts they are familiar with; they are wary to try something new because of the risk of a failed experience. Consumer purchase decisions are driven by total price, product weight, product description, expiration date, sell-by-date and unit price. They will also be more willing to try a new or unfamiliar retail cut from new recipes or recommendations from a friend.

An icon system to recommend cooking methods was also tested during the consumer research. It created more confusion and was not well received by consumers.

A recommendation for development of a consumer-friendly naming platform was created after the completion of the consumer research. It was found that short names with familiar terminology would be less confusing. The removal of negative, unfamiliar terms also helped reduce confusion. The new common names were found to be appealing and helpful to consumers.

Consumers also feel information on ideal preparation methods will be helpful in their purchase decisions. Consumers said an additional label that includes the best way to prepare the product will help them make better purchase decisions.

The consumer research identified the following ideal preparation methods for fresh red meats:

  • Slow cook for best results
  • Best prepared in skillet
  • Grill for best results
  • Marinate then grill
  • Marinate then skillet cook
  • Roast for best results

Common Name

The common name is a direct result of the consumer research conducted by the NPB and the beef checkoff. The research indicated that consumers want simplified and short meat cut names. In 2012 the URMIS system was revamped, and a common name standard was created that shortened and simplified retail cut names and eliminated unappealing terms and redundancies in the nomenclature.

Common names for meat cuts have been accepted by FSIS for years. The use of a common name for naming product is referenced in FSIS regulations.

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

Common Name Examples

A common name is not specific to any one class (unless it is trademarked), yet many of the names are only related to one class.

A few of the common names have two forms. Example: Flank Steak Rolls and Skirt Steak Rolls. Two forms are only used when it is necessary to clearly identify the item.

Common Name Cut Standard

There are thousands of meat cut names. Much of the consumer confusion around retail cut names is because each retail cut is being called a number of different names. The purpose of the Common Name Cut Standard is to ensure that each cut is unique and has only one common name. The standard has two requirements.

The first requirement is uniquely identifying each retail cut. Each retail cut must be one-of-a-kind; there can be no duplicates. To ensure no duplicates, retail cuts must have a unique component designation for class, primal (major), sub-primal or IM, retail cut identifier and form. The combination of all the components enables a retail cut to be one-of-a-kind. For retail cuts derived from minor primals (brisket, plate, shank, breast and flank) the sub-primal is not required.

Figure 21 illustrates the component designation for a T-Bone Steak.

One-of-a-kind Cut Standard - Figure 21 One-of-a-kind Cut Standard

The components are based on the URMIS hierarchy, Figure 11 in the Nomenclature section.

The second requirement is each unique retail cut can only have one common name (one-for-one relationship).

Retail Cut 1:1 Common Name Example - Figure 22 Retail Cut 1:1 Common Name Example

This standard provides the following benefits:

  • Eliminates the retail cuts that aren't unique or one-of-a-kind
  • Eliminates obstacles in the consumer's right-to-know what they are buying
  • Provides more ways for merchandising and differentiating retail cuts
  • Ensures that URMIS aligns with government regulation and guidelines
  • Provides the uniqueness needed for tracking and tracing products
  • Can be applied to all meat sectors (suppliers, retailer and foodservice)
  • Simplifies and standardizes cut names to minimize consumer confusion


Characteristics identify a retail cut's features that are not included in the common name. Because the common name is short and concise, characteristics provide the additional information needed to completely identify the retail cut.

Characteristics for common names include the following:

  • Class
  • Primal or sub-primal
  • Bone state
  • Cutting standard
Characteristics Example - Figure 23 Characteristics Example

The class is a key characteristic needed for each common name. Consumers and the cut standard require the class be identified.

The primal or sub-primal is only required when the common name does not include either the primal or sub-primal. Example: T-Bone Steak does not include the primal or sub-primal, so the loin primal is added as a characteristic. Example: Beef, Loin , Bone In, Thick. Another example is a common name that includes the primal: Bottom Round Steak. The Round primal is included in the common name thus only Beef, Boneless is needed as the characteristic.

The guideline used to determine either the primal or sub-primal usage as a characteristic is associated with consumer recognition and appeal. Using the above T-Bone Steak example; most consumers would not recognize a short loin sub-primal but more likely would recognize a loin primal. Additionally, loin is a more appealing term to consumers.

The bone state is a key characteristic needed for each common name. Consumers and regulations require that bone in or boneless be included.

The cutting standard is only required when it is applicable. If the common name does not have a cutting standard associated with it, then nothing is required.

The order for listing the characteristic components is: class, primal/sub-primal, bone state and cutting standard. Example: Beef, Loin, Bone In, Thick. Commas are placed between multiple characteristics. This identifies the characteristics for a T-Bone Steak that is not included in the common name.

Characteristics differentiate retail cuts that have the same common name. A single common name can have characteristics for bone in, boneless and more than one cutting standard.

Bone and Cutting Characteristic

Common names associated with more than one primal require the primal be listed as a characteristic.

Primal Characteristic

Value added common names (Cubes, Kabobs, Stew Meat etc.), can be derived from any or all primals. When preparing value added cuts, a process to keep cuts separated by primal or sub-primal is recommended, however, not required. If no separation process is maintained, the primal or sub-primal declaration is not included in the characteristic.

Sub-Primal Characteristic

When value added cuts (Cubes, Kabobs, Stew Meat etc.) are derived from a specific primal or sub-primal and a separation process is maintained, the primal or sub-primal declaration is included in the characteristic.

Primal Sub-Primal Characteristic

Some terms used in cutting standards are unappealing to consumers, so consumer-friendly terms are used to identify many of the cutting standard characteristics. The consumer-friendly characteristics not only differentiate the cut, but they also relate to the appearance of the product to the consumer. Consumer-friendly terms are inclusive of numerous cutting standards.



When appropriate, specific cutting standards are used as characteristics (e.g., Thick, Thin, Skinless, Butterflied, Frenched, Stuffed, Sliced, 8 Ribs, 11 Ribs, etc.).

Label Regulation

The Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906, administered by the FSIS is the statute that governs labeling. The regulation that meat cut names fall under is listed under the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR), Tile 9, Part 317.344. Federal requirements pre-empt state requirements; thus, states cannot impose requirements that are different than those under federal inspection.

Rules for the food label depend on the product type, identity statement and product name. The regulation requires the following:

  • Must be an appropriate descriptive name
  • Must accurately inform the consumer of the product's identity
  • Must clearly and completely identify the product
  • Product name cannot be misleading
  • Words must be clear, prominent, conspicuous, and legible
  • Some product names must be accompanied by a qualifying statement

In the regulation URMIS names are classified as descriptive "common or usual names."

CFR 9 317.344 requires nutritional labels for the major meat cuts, either on the label or at point-of-sale.

The following illustrates an example of a product label for a single ingredient meat cut.

Label Example - Figure 28 Label Example

Labeling Process

Case-ready products have evolved over the years, and new processing and packaging methods have moved more of the production of consumer packages from retailers to suppliers. Suppliers identify the product and provide the product name that is used on the case label. If a case contains the consumer package, the supplier will identify the product name for the consumer package as well. Product names used on case labels are not always consumer-friendly and sometimes carry over to the consumer package.

Consumer research has concluded that short, concise URMIS common names consistently used on meat cuts will help eliminate consumer confusion. To improve the consumers shopping experience for meat cuts, the entire industry must make a concerted effort to use URMIS common names on meat cuts. The following provides general information related to three important steps of the labeling process.

Understanding the Regulations as they Apply to Meat Cut Names
(This section is only applicable to the product name component of a label)

The product name is a labeling feature required by Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 317.2.

There are different types of product names. URMIS provides the common names that are accepted by FSIS for naming meat cuts.

On November 7, 2013, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) amended its prior label approval system regulations to expand the circumstances in which certain types of labels and labeling are generically approved. This rule was effective on January 6, 2014. Only certain types of labeling (i.e., 1) labels for temporary approval, 2) labels for products produced under religious exemption, 3) labels for products for export with labeling deviations, and 4) labels with special statements and claims) will have to actually be submitted to the Agency for evaluation and approval. Examples of special statements and claims that must be submitted include: (1) claims relating a product's nutrient content to a health or a disease condition; (2) statements that identify a product as "organic" or containing organic ingredients; (3) claims that are undefined in FSIS's regulations or Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book, for example, claims regarding the raising of animals, such as "no antibiotics administered" or "vegetarian fed"; (4) instructional or disclaimer statements concerning pathogens, e.g., "for cooking only" or "not tested for E. coli O157:H7"; and (5) statements that identify a product as "natural." For more information see 9 CFR 412.1.

Most meat cut labels would qualify for generically approved labeling. The following are meat cut names that qualify and examples of the same corresponding name with statements and claims that would not qualify under the generic label approval process:

Generic Label Qualification - Figure 29
Qualify Not Qualify
USDA Choice / T-Bone Steak, Beef, Bone In Grass Fed / USDA Choice / T-Bone Steak, Beef Bone in
Sirloin Chops, Pork, Boneless Certified Organic / Sirloin Chops, Pork, Boneless
Spareribs St. Louis-Style, Pork, Bone In Natural / Spareribs St. Louis-Style, Pork, Bone In
Denver Steak, Beef, Under Blade, Boneless Angus / Denver Steak, Beef, Under Blade, Boneless

URMIS common names can be used on cuts enhanced with solutions and cuts that include additions (marinades, seasoning, sauces, vegetables etc.), providing the label clearly indicates to consumers that the cut contains added solutions or additions.

Understanding the Regulations as they Apply to Processed Products
Processed products are defined as products that have been subject to one or more further manufacturing processes such as being cooked, dried, cured, ground, or reformed. Major product categories include cold cuts, sausage, ham, bacon and corned beef. Processed products undergo thermal and curing treatments that add flavoring and solutions to products; example natural juice, water, sugar, broth etc. Many processed meat products require a definition, standard of identity or composition be prescribed with the product name; example sausage and cold cuts.

URMIS common names can be used as the product name on processed meat cuts; example: Tri-Tip Roast, Beef, Boneless, Cooked and Loin Center Roast, Pork, Bone In, Smoked. The preservation declaration (smoked and cooked) are listed on line three of the product name.

Minimally processed products (unprocessed) are defined as products that have not been subject to any further manufacturing process such as being cooked, dried, cured, ground or reformed. Products may be sliced, diced, or mechanically tenderized. URMIS common names should be used on all beef, pork, lamb and veal minimally processed meat cuts.

URMIS Common Names on Consumer Packages
URMIS common names can be used for all meat cuts that are labeled for consumer packages. This includes case-ready, case-ready price-labeled, tray-ready, store tray-packed and sub-primals that are merchandised in the original vacuum packages. In some instances, labels placed on a consumer package have industry verbiage that is used on a case label. The use of URMIS common names on all consumer packages will provide consistency and help reduce consumer confusion that occurs from deciphering long industry terms.

Meat nomenclature used for labeling products comes from the IMPS and URMIS systems. Consumer packages of fresh meat cuts are derived from wholesale cuts, cut by a supplier or a retailer. The below table outlines the packaging and product types typically used in the U.S. meat industry, with the recommended nomenclature system for the case and consumer label.

Packaging, Product Type Labeling - Figure 30
Packaging Type / Product Types Case Label Consumer Label
Carcass, Sides, Quarters, Primals / Wholesale Cuts IMPS IMPS
Vacuum Packed / Sub-Primal Cuts IMPS URMIS Consumer Whole Cuts
Case-Ready / Meat Cuts - IM, Roast, Steak, Chop, Filet, Slice etc. URMIS URMIS
Case-Ready Price-Labeled / Meat Cuts - IM, Roast, Steak, Chop, Filet, Slice etc. URMIS URMIS
Tray-Ready / Meat Cuts - IM, Roast, Steak, Chop, Filet, Slice etc. URMIS URMIS
Store Tray-Packed / Meat Cuts - IM, Roast, Steak, Chop, Filet, Slice etc. IMPS URMIS

URMIS Common Name Resource
In recent years, many new meat cuts have been added to URMIS. URMIS provides all the basic cuts with common names that can be derived from IMPS approved carcasses, primals, sub-primals and individual muscles. The basic cuts include most of the appropriate cutting standards like thick, thin and butterflied.

MeatTrack.com provides complete lists of URMIS common names for beef, pork, lamb and veal cuts. Included in the MeatTrack.com beef, pork, lamb and veal applications are definitions, pictures and cut attributes. URMIS common names have unique U.P.C. codes that provide another level of identification. Meattrack.com is the best meat cut name resource to use to submit for a label approval to FSIS.

The FSIS website provides additional guidance about label approval, label submission, generic approval and other related labeling information. Please see:

Scale Label Recommendation

A key principle of URMIS was to establish a uniform scale label. The Uniform Label section gives an outline of labeling history and the importance of a uniform scale label.

Any change to scale labels can have huge implications on the entire supply chain. Recognizing this, a discovery process was conducted to understand the typical scale capabilities, the standard label size and format and the prominence of product name and font size on the label. Research with scale manufactures and retailers revealed the following:

  • Current scale systems allow four lines of description
  • Most retailers are only using one or two lines of description
  • Line one and line two are used for product description
  • Minimum 26-character length for each line
  • Can use multiple fonts and different size fonts
  • Can print one line in one font and another line in another font
  • Most scales have space for ingredients which is currently being underutilized
  • Typical expectation age for most scales is approximately seven years

All of these factors were considered as part of the development of the new recommendation for the scale label.

The recommendation is to utilize line 1 and line 2 for the common name and maintain the 26 character length for both lines.

Scale Label Recommendation - Figure 31 Scale Label Recommendation

Research indicated that the minimum character length for the two description lines were 26 characters. Common names are 26 characters or less.

The new common names contain fewer words. Over 90% of the common names contain three words or less.

Common Name Word Count - Figure 32
Class One Word Two Words Three Words Four Words Total Common Names
Beef 9 50 59 18 136
6.62% 36.76% 43.38% 13.24% 100%
Pork 6 33 36 2 77
7.79% 42.86% 46.75% 2.60% 100%
Lamb 8 24 27 1 60
13.33% 40.00% 45.00% 1.67% 100%
Veal 9 21 21 1 52
17.31% 40.38% 40.38% 1.92% 100%
Total 32 128 143 22 325
9.85% 39.38% 44.00% 6.77% 100%

As a general rule, most of the characteristics fit on the 26-character-length line two. Retail cuts with the longer cutting standard terms may require abbreviating. The most frequently used characteristics with the recommended abbreviation are listed in Figure 33.

Abbreviations - Figure 33
Term Recommended Abbreviation
Boneless Bnls
Bone In Bn-In
Butterflied Btrfld
Center Cut Cntr-Cut
Frenched Frnchd
Pocket Pckt
Skinless Sknls
Sliced Slcd
Stuffed Stfd

Some retail cut names may be deep-rooted with consumers and marketers in regions of the U.S. The approved common name should always be used first. Regional names can be handled in two different ways:

  • A sticker with the regional name applied to the consumer package
  • A case sign that illustrates the common name listed on the label and regional name relationship

The regional name could also be included on the label at the end of the common name in parenthesis (permissible but not recommended). Examples: Strip Steak (New York), Ribeye Chop (Iowa Chop), Ribeye Steak (Delmonico).

This scale label recommendation is based on consumer research. Every effort was made to consider and alleviate implementation barriers. The basic nomenclature used on the label for every retail cut should be the same regardless of the brand of scale or labeling equipment. This scale label recommendation tells consumers, at a glance, exactly what is in the package.

Ideal Preparation Method

Consumers struggle understanding the different cooking methods and how to best prepare a retail cut. Scale labels that included the cooking method were tested with consumers. The test indicated they appreciate help on how to prepare the retail cut, and they want to know the best preparation method for each retail cut. They also recommend the preparation method stand out on the label.

The relationship of cookery to the identification system has always been included in URMIS. The 2014 URMIS update includes an ideal preparation method for each retail cut.

Based on the consumer research, it is recommended the ideal preparation method be included on line 3 of the scale label.

Ideal Preparation Method Label Recommendation - Figure 34 Ideal Preparation Method Label Recommendation

The minimum 26-character length standard is applicable to the ideal preparation method

Ideal Preparation Method Character Length - Figure 35
Preparation Method Character Count
Marinate then grill 19
Grill for best results 22
Roast for best results 22
Best prepared in skillet 24
Slow cook for best results 26
Marinate then skillet cook 26

Retail Implementation

URMIS was originally designed for and around the retail segment. Today, as in the past, retailers play an influential role with the implementation of URMIS. There is no specific regulation with URMIS as a prerequisite; the system is voluntary. Perhaps the most important common goal the entire industry has is consumer satisfaction. Consumer satisfaction cannot be regulated, so the first step starts with understanding what the consumer wants. Research indicates consumers want a short, concise and simplified meat cut nomenclature system. When retailers implement URMIS, it communicates to the entire supply chain about the importance of consumer satisfaction.

Descriptions used to identify meat products are used in a number of different systems within the retail enterprise. Point Of Sale (POS) data drives some of the most important decisions that retailers make. The descriptions used in POS should be based on a defined, clear and concise standard. Using the new common names and characteristics for meat cut descriptions will improve POS data integrity.

Customer receipt descriptions normally have a limited number of characters. The new common names are short, concise and simplified. Using the new common name as the description on the customer receipt will tie back to the scale label and help the consumer identify their purchase.

Typically signs used in the meat case help increase sales, if they are accurate. If the description on the sign does not match the description on the consumer package, then consumer frustration and confusion will be the result. Using the new common names and characteristics consistently between the label and the sign will help eliminate consumer frustration and confusion and improve sales.

Ad circulars and online sale information is a huge planning tool for consumers. Consistency between the descriptions used in ad circulars, on the sign and the scale label will result in less consumer confusion. Using cooking suggestions and recipes in ad circulars will assist the consumer with purchasing and preparing the retail cut. The description listed in the circular and on the recipe should be the same. Use of the new common names in the ad circulars and recipes will provide consistency and reduce consumer confusion.

Efficiency and production at the distribution center is directly related to product descriptions. Mis-picks and key entry errors are often attributed to ambiguous or poorly maintained descriptions. Utilizing the URMIS and IMPS nomenclature for warehouse descriptions will improve communication, efficiency and production.

URMIS provides a complete system for creating descriptions to identify meat cuts for retailers. The URMIS hierarchy (Nomenclature section, Figure 11 ) can be used as a data planning tool for retailers. Use of common names and characteristics in the scale system, sign program and ad circulars will provide consistency, reduce consumer confusion and improve communication with employees.

Common Names

This section provides standards for the common names. There are standards and lists for the following:

  • Nomenclature groups
  • Retail Cut Type
  • Common Name Definitions
  • Consumer Whole Cuts

The lists are identified and/or grouped by the class.


Anatomical names were part of the original URMIS publication. Most of the nomenclature applicable to the new common name standard was retained. Consumer-friendly beef common names replaced the terms lip-off, under blade, ball tip and flap meat. Pork Ribeye Chops replaced Rib Chops.

The term "filet" was approved, provided the retail cut is derived from an individual muscle. Filet common names are Ribeye Filet, Tenderloin Filet, Top Sirloin Filet and Chef's Prime Filets. Chef's Prime Filets were trademarked before the individual muscle requirement, thus retains the original retail cut standard.

Reference the Anatomical Common Name list for an overview.


Bone names were part of the original URMIS publication. The nomenclature applicable to the new common name standard was retained. The one exception was Loin Chops Center-Cut and was replaced by T-Bone Chops.

Reference the Bone Common Name list for an overview.


Nomenclature applicable to the new common name standard was retained. New common names were added for Beef Strip, Porterhouse Chop and Rack of Pork.

Reference the Traditional Common Name list for an overview.


For years the idea of branding a retail cut of meat was not allowed as part of the URMIS nomenclature. Online research conducted by NCBA, funded by the beef checkoff, revealed that consumers were receptive to brand names.

As meat production animals have become larger, IMs were identified and tested. These single muscles met consumer preferences for smaller portion sizes and eating consistency. From a quality and value perspective, these new retail cuts met the criteria typically used for branding an item.

Brand common names are now approved with a very strictly defined set of parameters:

  • Brand common names must be IMs
  • Unique to only one IM from a primal
  • Brand common names must be short and concise
  • Brand common names must be memorable
  • The characteristics must identify the primal or sub-primal the individual muscle is derived from
  • The brand common name must be defined
  • The brand common name must be identified with a unique U.P.C. code

Reference the Brand Name list for an overview.


Historically the use of geographical names has not been approved for the URMIS nomenclature. Online research funded by the beef checkoff revealed that consumers were very receptive to geographical names.

Some geographical locations become known for the preparation, originality and events around certain products. Other geographical areas become famous for the production of certain products. The history behind these areas is noted and well documented.

Geographical names must be memorable and communicate a positive quality and value message. Geographical common names are now approved with a very strict defined set of parameters:

  • Geographical common names must be IMs
  • Unique to only one IM from a primal
  • Geographical common names must be short and concise
  • Geographical common names must be memorable
  • The characteristic must identify the primal or sub-primal the individual muscle is derived from
  • The geographical common name must be defined
  • The geographical common name must be identified with a unique U.P.C. code

Reference the Geographical Name list for an overview.

Value Added

Value added names have always been a part of URMIS. As the name indicates, these items reflect a value if prepared to the specification. Value added names were modified to reflect the lowest recognizable and simple common name. Common names are Cubes, Dices, Kabobs, Strips, Stew Meat, Cubed Steaks and Cutlets.

The industry continues to migrate toward smaller close trimmed sub-primal cuts and individual muscles. This provides a convenient supply for value added cuts. A number of new value added common names were added.

Reference the Value Added list for an overview.

Retail Cut Types

Common names can come from all four meat classes of beef, pork, lamb and veal. Some common names are shared by all classes, while others are unique to only one class. Retail cut types identify the class/classes that each common name belongs to.

Reference the Retail Cut Type list for an overview.

Common Name Definitions

URMIS requires that each common name be defined. Due to the differences in anatomical structure, size and primal fabrication methods, common name definitions are class specific.

Reference the following lists for an overview:
Beef Common Name Definitions
Pork Common Name Definitions

Consumer Whole Cuts

Selling whole sub-primals and IMs in sealed packages direct from the processing facility is a popular merchandising strategy. The descriptions and definitions for sub-primals are based on IMPS. For sub-primals and IMs that are typically sold to consumers, a common name has been applied.

Sub-primals and IMs used a shortened version of the IMPS description for the common name. The common name does not include whole because it is obvious to the consumer it is the whole retail cut. Examples of common names are Chuck Tender, Ribeye Roll, Loin Sirloin Half, Strip, Loin Center-Cut, Tenderloin, Sirloin Tip and Leg-of-Lamb.

Short ribs, Back Ribs and Spareribs are common names used to identify a smaller cut. To prevent duplication of names, common names used to describe the whole ribs are Short Ribs Whole, Back Ribs Whole and Spareribs Whole.

Reference the Consumer Whole Cuts list for an overview.

New Cut Name Review Process

The following outlines the necessary steps needed to submit a new cut and common name for the URMIS system. Also outlined are the steps needed to make a change to an existing common name, this is applicable to beef, pork, lamb and veal fresh meat cuts.

Determine if the wholesale cut is already included in Institutional Meat Purchase Specification (IMPS). IMPS is maintained on the USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service website at https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards/imps.

Identify the wholesale cut in IMPS:

  • Identify the primal
  • Identify the sub-primal
  • Does it cross fabrication primals
  • Is it an individual muscle? If so, provide the scientific name
  • Summarize the level of specific identification included in the current IMPS
  • For missing IMPS identification, provide the details needed to include in IMPS

Determine if the cut is maintained in URMIS:

URMIS Cut Maintenance - Figure 36
Item Description IMPS URMIS
Wholesale Cuts - Carcass, Sides, Quarters, Primals Yes No
Sub-Primals Yes Yes - consumer whole cuts require an URMIS common name
Individual Muscles Yes Yes - requires an URMIS common name
Roast, Steak, Chop, Filet, Slice, Medallion, Strip, Cube, Tip, Roll, Rib No Yes

Determine if the cut is already included in URMIS. URMIS lists for beef, pork, lamb and veal are maintained on the MeatTrack.com website at meattrack.com.

Identify the cut in URMIS. Search the applicable applications for:

  • Primal (Category)
  • Sub-primal (Sub-category)
  • Common Name
  • To ensure cut authenticity, follow the Common Name Cut Standard in the Common Name Cut Standard section

To recommend a new URMIS cut, provide the following pictures:

  • Based on IMPS, the wholesale cut that the item is being derived from, including top, bottom and side views. Need to be able to identify the ribs from the side view of the picture
  • Approximate length and width of the wholesale cut that the cut is being derived from
  • A picture of the wholesale cut after the cut has been removed

To recommend a new URMIS common name or make a change to an existing common name, provide the following:

  • A complete description of the cut
  • A picture of the cut
  • The size, shape and eating characteristics of the cut
  • Where the common name is being used or merchandised
  • Consumer acceptance of the common name
  • Consumer research supporting the common name

The common name must conform to the current URMIS standard.

URMIS new cut and common name approval process URMIS new cut and common name approval process

Organizations that oversee and provide maintenance for URMIS cuts and common names:

  • National Cattlemen's Beef Association
  • National Pork Board
  • American Lamb Board
  • North American Meat Association (Veal)

The USDA's AMS administers the Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications (IMPS). IMPS is the gateway for admission of meat cuts to be recognized and accepted by the USDA. AMS works closely with the organizations and FSIS on meat cut nomenclature.

The USDA's FSIS is the public health agency responsible for ensuring that meat cuts are correctly labeled and packaged. FSIS works closely with AMS and the organizations on meat cut nomenclature.

The ICMISC is the oversight group that maintains the integrity and consistency of the URMIS system. The ICMISC approves meat cut names and makes suggestions to assure that the URMIS system reflects the current needs of the marketplace.


MeatTrack.com provides URMIS standards, meat random weight U.P.C. codes, labeling guidance and a comprehensive dictionary of industry terms. The 2014 URMIS Standard document can be accessed, reviewed and downloaded from MeatTrack.com. A free membership to MeatTrack.com is required. Visit MeatTrack.com to sign up and setup your account.

A list of processed products, variety meats/offals and ground products are maintained on Meattrack.com (mentioned in the Scope of this Document section). Beef, Pork, Lamb and Veal Common Name lists can be found on MeatTrack.com; Common Name cross-reference lists for IMPS, foodservice, culinary and unapproved terms are provided on MeatTrack.com as well. These lists will aid the industry in converting to the new URMIS Common Name Standard.

The MeatTrack.com internet address (URL) is meattrack.com.

Glossary and Acronyms

This glossary provides definitions generally related to URMIS. Reference the Glossary list for an overview.

Common name definitions can be found in the Definitions section.

A complete list of industry definitions can be found in the dictionary section at Meattrack.com - https://www.meattrack.com/dictionary/intro/

The definitions prepared for this glossary summarize each topic in broad terms rather than in detail. If greater detail is desired, particularly for definitions of federally-regulated products, the reader should source the appropriate USDA publications.

Acronyms (sets of initials representing an organization or a name) are in parenthesis following the first use of the full name in the document; the acronym is used thereafter.

Table of Acronyms
Acronym Meaning
ALB American Lamb Board
AMI American Meat Institute
AMS Agriculture Marketing Service
CFR Code of Federal Regulation
ECR Efficient Consumer Response
FMI Food Marketing Institute
FMIA Federal Meat Inspection Act
FSIS Food Safety and Inspection Service
ICMISC Industrywide Cooperative Meat Identification Standards Committee
IM Individual Muscle
IMPS Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications
NCBA National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a contractor to the beef checkoff
NPB National Pork Board
POS Point of Sale
UCC Uniform Code Council
U.P.C. Universal Product Code
URMIS Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards
USDA United States Department of Agriculture

Contact Information

National Cattlemen's Beef Association
A contractor to the beef checkoff
9110 E. Nichols Avenue #300
Centennial, CO 80112
Phone: (303) 694-0305

National Pork Board
1776 NW 114th Street
Des Moines, IA 50325
Phone: (515) 223-2600

American Lamb Board
3515 S. Tamarac Dr.
Suite 130
Denver, CO 80237
Phone: (303) 759-3001

North American Meat Association
American Meat Institute
150 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 587-4200

United States Department of Agriculture
Agriculture Marketing Service
Livestock, Poultry and Seed Program
Quality Assessment Division
Standards Branch, Room 3932-S
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250-0254
Phone: (202) 720-3271

United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC20250-3700
Phone: (402) 344-5000

Meat Solutions, Inc.
150 East 29th Street
Suite 285
Loveland, CO 80538
Phone: (970) 622-8164

Midan Marketing
1529 West Armitage Avenue
Suite 202
Chicago, IL60642
Phone: (773) 276-9712

Document Summary

Description Details
Document Title URMIS 2014
File name URMIS_2014_Final_v6.7_10-06-2023
Date Last Modified 10/06/2023
Document Version v6.7
Status Final