URMIS Standard

The Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards (URMIS) system is a science-based identification system that provides the meat industry with standard nomenclature for all beef, pork, lamb, and veal cuts. The URMIS system was developed to provide a retail meat cut identification system and a standardized nomenclature for every retail red meat item. 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.

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 employee behind the meat 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 was very helpful when communicating with shoppers.

Today, URMIS is used to identify meat cuts 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.

System Update

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 suggested the need to review current meat cut nomenclature to determine if it appropriately supported consumer needs.

The 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 results showed that most consumers are unfamiliar with and confused about all of 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 results also showed that consumers typically purchase the same three or four retail cuts that they are familiar with. Research shows that consumer purchase decisions are driven by total price, product weight, product description, expiration date, sell-by date, and unit price.

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 primary purpose of 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 update included the following:
  • A complete review of current carcass, primal, and subprimal 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

The NCBA and the NPB worked closely with the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service to update the entire URMIS system. The system update supports the original foundation of URMIS and incorporates changes made in product-processing, identifying, labeling, cooking, and tracking meat cuts. The resulting updated standards will serve as a platform for all meat segments to move toward a consumer-friendly meat nomenclature system and adopt business practices that are focused on the consumer.

Recommended New Label Format
  • Line 1 – Consumer-friendly Common Name:
    • Cut descriptor and form
    • Shortened and simplified
  • Line 2 – Cut Characteristics:
    • Features not included in the common name
    • Includes the class, primal or subprimal, bone state and cutting standard
  • Line 3 – Basic use and preparation method
    • Based on the ideal eating experience
  • Other Benefits:
    • Consumer-tested
    • Eliminated redundancy and confusing names
    • Easier for consumers to understand
    • All names are maximum of 26 characters per line
    • Compliant with FSIS regulations
    • U.P.C.s remain the same
URMIS Resources

Common Names

Common names are a direct result of extensive consumer research conducted by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association — 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, working with the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the new common name standard was developed. Common names are recognized by FSIS and used in the label approval process. The URMIS system was revamped, and a Common Name standard was created. The 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:
  • Class (i.e., beef, pork)
  • Primal or subprimal identifier – used to differentiate cuts with the same common name
  • Bone state (i.e., bone in, boneless)
  • Cutting standard (i.e., thickness, muscle and value-added attributes)

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.

Porterhouse Steak Label     Porterhouse Chops 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.

Common names were established for the meat classes of Beef, Pork, Lamb and Veal. The origin for common names came from the Nomenclature Groups of Anatomical, Bone, Traditional, Brand, Geographical, and Value Added. The Nomenclature Groups lists have an overview of common names within each group, identified with a class legend. use the tabs at the top to navigate to the different

Some common names are shared by all classes, while others are unique to only one class. Reference the Types lists to see the class/classes that each common name is associated with.

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 Definitions lists for each class, and click on each common name to see the definition.

Common names were established for whole sub-primals and wholesale cuts that are typically sold to consumers. The descriptions and definitions for sub-primals are based on IMPS. Reference the Consumer Whole Cuts lists for an overview by class.

Preparation Methods

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 have placed a new emphasis on understanding today's consumer.

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 recommended 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.

Preparation Method Label Example