Fresh, "Not Frozen" and Similar Terms when Labeling Meat and Poultry Products
This guidance document lists specific product types in which fresh cannot be used to describe. It helps firms in labeling meat and poultry products.
The word "fresh" may not be used to describe:
- Any cured product, e.g., corned beef, smoked cured turkey or prosciutto.
- Any canned, hermetically sealed shelf stable, dried, or chemically preserved product.
- Any raw poultry, poultry part, or any edible portion thereof whose internal temperature has ever been below 26 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Any injected, basted, marinated poultry, poultry part or any edible portion thereof whose internal temperature has ever been below 26 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Any other finished processed poultry product (including cooked poultry products) where its temperature has ever been below 26 degrees Fahrenheit, e.g., turkey sausage, chicken meatballs, cooked breaded chicken nuggets, etc.
- Any uncured red meat product permitted to be treated with a substance that delays discoloration, such as, ascorbic acid, erythorbic acid, or citric acid.
- Any product treated with an antimicrobial substance or irradiated.
- The phrase "never frozen" or similar verbiage is not permitted on an unprocessed or processed poultry product where the internal temperature of the product has ever been below 0 degrees Fahrenheit or on any red meat product that has ever been frozen. Further, the phrase "never frozen" or similar verbiage is not permitted on refrigerated secondary products where the meat or poultry component has ever been frozen, e.g., multi-component meals, dinners, etc.
Generally, trademarks, company names, fanciful names, etc., containing the word "fresh" are acceptable, even on products produced in a manner described in one through seven above, provided the term is used in such a manner that it remains clear to the purchaser that the product is not fresh.
Secondary products, e.g., pizza, multi-component meals, dinners, etc., sold in the refrigerated state, i.e., not frozen or previously frozen, may be labeled as "fresh" when the term is used to describe the product as a whole even when made from components processed in a manner described in one through seven above.