The Pig Carcase Grading Scheme: dress and grade carcases

Abattoirs in the Pig Carcase Grading Scheme must abide by the regulations for dressing, weighing, grading and marking carcases.

Applies to England and Wales

Once you register with the Pig Carcase Grading Scheme, you must follow the rules that describe how to:

  • dress carcases
  • weigh carcases
  • grade carcases for lean meat content (the grade is then marked on the carcase or documented)

There are also rules about the information you must record for each carcase.

Dress carcases

You must dress pig carcases according to either the EU or the UK dressing specification. You cannot use your own dressing specification.

The EU specification

Before weighing the carcase, you must remove the:

  • tongue
  • bristles (hair)
  • hooves
  • genital organs
  • flare fat
  • kidney
  • diaphragm

The UK specification

In the UK, abattoirs are allowed to present pig carcases according to the ‘UK specification’. This means dressing carcases the same as EU specification, but leaving the following parts in:

  • kidneys
  • flare fat
  • diaphragm

You can leave the tongue in or take it out.

Weigh carcases

You must record carcase weights as they appear on the actual scale display. You must not round the weight up or down.

You must weigh the dressed carcase for its warm weight. Wherever possible, you must do this no more than 45 minutes after the pig has been stuck.

The table below shows the adjustments (also known as coefficients) that you must make to the weight displayed on the scale to arrive at a standardised “warm” weight when the presentation of the carcass differs from the standard specification set out in retained EU legislation.

Carcase presentation Adjustment to weight recorded (coefficient)
Weighed with the kidneys, flare fat and diaphragm in Carcases up to 56kg reduce by 0.7kg

Carcases between 56.5kg and 74.5kg reduce by 1.1kg

Carcases of 74.6kg and over reduce by 1.6kg
Weighed with tongue in Reduce by 0.3kg

To calculate the cold weight, deduct 2% from the warm weight. Any deductions from the table above must be applied before the 2% is taken.

Example: A carcass with kidneys, flare fat, diaphragm and tongue in has a scale weight of 65kg. 1.4kg is first deducted per the table above to reach a standardised “warm” weight of 63.6kg. 2% is then deducted, for a cold weight of 62.3kg (rounded to 0.1kg).

Should there be a delay of more than 45 minutes between when the pig is stuck and when it is weighed, the 2% deduction must diminish by 0.1% for every 15 minutes or part thereof of delay beyond the first 45 minutes. For example, in the case of a pig that is weighed 85 minutes after being stuck, the warm-cold coefficient should be 1.7%.

Grade carcases

  • Intra-scope (Optical Probe)
  • Fat-O-Meater (FOM)
  • Hennessy Grading Probe (HGP II)
  • CSB Ultra-Meater
  • AutoFom (fully automatic ultrasonic carcase grading)

The results must then be used to grade the carcase according to this scale:

Lean meat as a percentage of recorded carcase cold weight Grade
60% or more S
55% or more but less than 60% E
50% or more but less than 55% U
45% or more but less than 50% R
40% or more but less than 45% O
less than 40% P

Record carcase grades

You must mark information about the carcase grade directly on to the carcase or record it at the time of grading.

You must mark carcases destined for export uncut to an EU member state with either:

  • the appropriate letter from the grading scale above; or
  • the percentage lean meat content.

In other cases, you must either:

  • mark the carcase with the appropriate letter from the grading scale or with the percentage lean meat content; or
  • keep a record for each carcase containing at least
    • the individual identification of the carcase by any unalterable means
    • the warm weight of the carcase, and
    • the EU classification letter from the grading scale above.

If you mark the carcase, you must use indelible, non-toxic, heat-resistant ink and the letters and numbers must be at least 2 centimetres high.

Communicate the classification results

You must tell whoever has sent the animal to slaughter the results of the classification, either in writing or electronically. The format you use could be an invoice or attached document.

You must tell them:

  • which dressing specification has been used
  • the classification results (EU class)
  • the carcase’s weight (specifying whether this is the warm weight or the cold weight).
Published 31 March 2014
Last updated 30 September 2022 + show all updates
  1. An example has been added to 'weigh carcass'

  2. Text reviewed and updated

  3. First published.