Meat Notice 2016-02 - Reminder of AUS-MEAT’s responsibilities for accuracy of trade descriptions as they relate to export meat

​​Issue Date: 31 May 2016

Contact Officers:

Christine Coulson
02 6272 3933​

Donna Bennett
02 6272 3933

Date of Effect: Immediate

Date of Review: 31 May 2018

Distribution Categories

Central and regional office
Departmental on-plant officer(s)
Managers, export meat establishments
State/Territory regulatory authorities
Approved Islamic Organisations


The purpose of this notice is to remind occupiers of the operational responsibility for export meat trade descriptions and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ (the Department) initiatives in the area of approved arrangements for these trade descriptions.


This meat notice applies to meat and meat products of the bovine, ovine and caprine species but does not apply to the further processing of meat and meat products.  The notice also applies to (AUS-MEAT) accredited porcine establishments. 

This meat notice outlines existing department agreement with AUS-MEAT.

This meat notice replaces recently archived Meat Notice 1989/01 - Reminder of AUS-MEAT’s responsibilities for accuracy of trade descriptions as they relate to export meat.


AUS-MEAT was established in September 1986 as an industry-oriented body responsible for the development, maintenance and oversight of a national meat trading language for both domestic and export meat. This language, which is based on the objective trade descriptions for export meat, was implemented at most export establishments with the department retaining responsibility for oversighting its application.

In 1989 responsibility for certain aspects of the language, particularly those seen as pertaining to commercial or marketing matters, was passed to AUS-MEAT.  With the development of approved Quality Assurance arrangements including the Approved Arrangement introduced in 2005 in the Export Control (Meat and Meat Product) Orders, further responsibility has been transferred to Industry and to AUS-MEAT.  The legal ability for the department to approve third party auditors was also included in those orders.

It is recognised that under the Export Control Act 1982 and the Export Control (Meat and Meat Products) Orders 2005 (Orders), principal responsibility for compliance lies with the Occupier of the registered establishment.  The role of verifying truth-in-labelling rests with the Department. An agreement between the Department and AUS-MEAT outlines that this obligation can be met through a verification process whereby AUS-MEAT takes day-to-day operational responsibility, including for corrective action, for all trade descriptions other than basic descriptions that importing country authorities may require the Department, as the government regulating authority, to oversight. Verification of the trade description system and relevant functions by the Department and its approved third party auditors ensures the legislative requirements for trade descriptions are met.

Requirements of trade descriptions under the Orders are to ensure meat and meat products intended for export for food:

  • Are wholesome or are identified for export for further processing for food;
  • Meet requirements to have an accurate trade description;
  • Meet the importing country requirements necessary to maintain market eligibility; and
  • Are traceable, can be recalled if required and their integrity is assured.

The department verifies compliance with the requirements of the Export Control Act 1982 by auditing industry performance under approved arrangements. AUS-MEAT are responsible for approving the parts of the arrangement that relate to trade description, verifying compliance with the arrangement and Orders, ensuring "corrective" action is taken in the event of a particular management's failure to adhere to requirements, and providing reports back to the Department Secretary (or delegate) in a timely fashion. The Department verifies the activities of AUS-MEAT are in compliance with the agreement established between both parties.

Legal Basis

The legal basis for trade descriptions are contained within the Export Control Act 1982, the Export Control (Meat and Meat Product) Orders 2005 and any relevant importing country requirement (Manual for Importing Country Requirements - MICOR).  The Australian Meat Industry Classification System Manual 1 is referenced in the Export Control (Meat and Meat Product) Orders.

Legal Responsibility

The regulations for trade description are the responsibility of the department.
Changes to trade description remain the responsibility of the department.
Exemptions to any requirement in the Orders are the responsibility of the department.
The Australian Meat Industry Classification System Manual 1 (AUS-MEAT language) is the responsibility of the Australian Meat Industry Language and Standards Committee.

Trade description responsibilities

The Department must:

  1. Maintain regulatory oversight for trade descriptions and trade description language
  2. Ensure meat and meat products have a correctly applied trade description
  3. Ensure trade description is accurate
  4. Assume responsibility for description of the following:
  • Species
  • Basic Categories (meat)
  • Basic Categories (offal)
  • Other compulsory health/hygiene/trade description aspects listed in attachment A

AUS-MEAT must (by understanding with the Department):

  1. Fulfil requirements of agreed delegated responsibility for trade descriptions and trade description language.
  2. Assume responsibility for trade description of the following:
  • Alternative Categories (meat)
  • Alternative Categories (offal)
  • Compulsory commercial/marketing aspects
  • Customer/additional commercial/marketing aspects
  • Supplementary specifications/Minimum Standards
  1. Maintain an accreditation regime under the AUS-MEAT National Accreditation Standards
  2. Conduct regular audits evaluating establishment conformance with AUS-MEAT language at AUS-MEAT accredited establishments.

Label approval at AUS-MEAT accredited establishments covered by the scope of this notice are first granted by AUS-MEAT for those aspects AUS-MEAT are responsible. 

ATMs will consider requests for approved arrangement approval of trade description labels following the AUS-MEAT endorsement for the proposed labels.

Attachment A


The department is responsible for the following trade descriptors:







Basic Categories (Meat)








Sow Pork



Beef  'A'


Boar Pork



Basic Categories (Offal)






Other Compulsory Health/Hygiene/Trade Description Aspects

  • Date of Packaging
  • Customer Country Markings
  • AI Stamp (security and monitoring of application)
  • Refrigeration Statement (eg 'Keep Frozen')
  • Bilingual Trade Description Approvals
  • Trade Description Alteration/Interference
  • Trade Description Other than in Orders
  • Ingredients Statement
  • Permanently Affixed Prescribed Tag Approvals
  • Identification of Product 'For Further Processing Before Export'
  • Trade Description Requirements for Meat Fractions, mechanically separated meat (MSM), Pharmaceutical Products, Animal Food.


AUS-MEAT is responsible for the following trade descriptors:

Alternative Categories (Meat)

Yearling Steer

Young Lamb

Sucker Pork


Yearling Beef


Gilt Pork


Young Steer


Gilt Light Pork


Young Beef


Gilt Heavy Pork

Goat Wether

Young Prime Steer


Barrow Pork


Young Prime Beef


Barrow Light Pork


Prime Steer


Barrow Heavy Pork


Prime Beef


Male Light Pork




Male Heavy Pork










Yearling Entire




Young Entire




Young Bull




Alternative Categories (Offal)

Same Details as shown above for Meat, with following additional Category descriptions:







Sow Pork




Boar Pork


Buffalo removed from both meat and offal alternative categories
Other Compulsory Commercial/Marketinq Aspects

  • 'Product of Australia'
  • Establishment Number
  • Name and Address
  • Bone-in/Boneless
  • Chiller Assessment (Fat/Meat Exclusion Colour)
  • Location of Trade Description on Carton/Bag
  • Size of Print
  • Logos
  • Contrast and Obscured Printing
  • ​Tolerances
  • Net Weight*

*Note: weights and measures – enforced by the National Measurement Institute

Commercial/Marketing Aspects

  • Fat Depth Range
  • Weight Range
  • Fat Class
  • Weight Class
  • CL Content
  • Cut/Item Description (including Common Code Cipher)
  • Number of Cuts or Portions
  • Type of Packaging
  • Original Untrimmed Fat Class
  • Original Weight Class
  • Weight Related Fat Class
  • Expiry Date/Shelf Life
  • Temperature Statement in Conjunction with Refrigeration Statement e.g. 'Store at 0°C'
  • Raising claims

Supplementary Specifications / Minimum Standards

  • Grain Fed Beef
  • Accelerated Conditioning
  • Skin-on (Goats)
  • Skin-off (Pigs)
  • Halal (management of identification cards)

Other format