For Your Information: F2-03 New Zealand Definition - Lamb

New Zealand Food Safety Authority
Date: 28 February 2003
From: Steven Ainsworth, Programme Manager (Market Access)

"Lamb" definition - "A sheep less than 12 months of age or which does not have any permanent incisors in wear"

  • This definition allows sheep older than 12 months of age to be slaughtered as lambs if there are no permanent incisors are in wear.
  • This definition also allows for sheep with permanent incisors in wear to be slaughtered as lambs if it can be verified that the sheep are less than 12 months of age. Verification would be expected to be traced back to evidence that can unequivocally substantiates the age.

This definition of lamb is consistent with the Meat New Zealand definition and is considered a truthful definition to support the use of the term "lamb". Overseas market access requirements (OMARs) may indicate alternative definitions for products sent to those markets.

Operator Systems Guidelines

The operator should have a system that ensures that only animals that meet the definition are slaughtered, labelled and certified as "lamb". The onus is on the operator to develop a system that consistently meets the outcome. Below are some guidelines that can be used when developing a system.

  1. Target mobs that are likely to contain animals around the 12 months age, and the largest, oldest looking sheep when mouthing of presented lambs. The sample checked should be no less than 10% of each line.
  2. There is scope to increase the percentage checked at crucial times of the year, and to decrease it at times of the year when there is minimal risk.
  3. When sheep not meeting the definition of "lamb" have been identified, then the operator should check all other animals in that line (either in the yards, sticking etc).
  4. All sheep not meeting the definition of "lamb" should be identified as to eliminate any possibility that they could be slaughtered, labelled and certified as lamb.

Verification Guidelines

The onus is on the operator to meet the outcome. Their system should be robust enough to achieve this, where it is not, their own internal audit procedures should identify any deficiencies and appropriate corrective/preventative actions taken.

Third party verification is independent of company verification. This verification would not only audit that the company procedure is being followed, but also would verify that the outcome is being met.

Disclaimer: This 'For Your Information' is intended for use as a guideline only and should not be taken as definitive or exhaustive. NZFSA endeavours to keep this information current and accurate. However, it may be subject to change without notice. NZFSA will not accept liability for any loss resulting from reliance on this information.


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