Producing and distributing food – guidance

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.

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 can’t 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’.

Carcases are dressed as for the EU specification, except that:

  • the following parts are left in:
    • kidneys
    • flare fat
    • diaphragm
  • the tongue may be left in or taken 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.

The dressed carcase must be weighed for its warm weight. Wherever possible, this must be done not more than 45 minutes after the pig has been stuck.

The following table shows the other factors that affect the warm weight that you record for the carcase and the reductions you should apply (also called coefficients).

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
Weighed more than 45 minutes after the pig has been stuck Reduce by 0.1% for each additional 15 minutes that passes or part thereof

To calculate the cold weight, deduct 2% from the warm weight.

Grade carcases

At the time of weighing, abattoirs registered with the Pig Carcase Grading Scheme must also assess and grade the lean meat content of the carcase.

These are approved instruments to use for measuring back fat:

  • 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

Information about the carcase grade must be either marked directly on to the carcase or recorded at the time of grading.

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

  • the appropriate letter from the grading scale above
  • 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
  • keep a record of either the letter from the grading scale above or percentage lean meat content

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.