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Beef Grading: Independent or Company Controlled?

The Weekly Times have given us an opportunity to show support for independent meat graders in abattoirs, if you click on the link below you can vote simply yes or no for independent meat graders.

Some farmers are suggesting we should also consider implementing something similar to USA meat grading system. This would provide a universal grading system giving greater confidence for our product both in local and export markets and would solve the problem of cow beef being sold on the shelves as prime beef.  This suggestion would link well with independent grading.
Below is part of some information from a fact sheet reviewed by members of the American Meat Science Association about the USDA grading system:
The USDA grading system Quality Grading
Beef quality refers to the expected eating characteristics (tenderness, juiciness and flavor) of the cooked product. USDA Quality Grades are used to reflect differences in expected eating quality among slaughter cattle and their carcasses. There are eight USDA Quality Grades for beef:
1. USDA Prime           5. USDA Commercial
2. USDA Choice         6. USDA Utility
3. USDA Select          7. USDA Cutter
4. USDA Standard      8. USDA Canner
Eating quality generally is most desirable for “Prime beef” and least desirable for “Canner beef”. The Quality Grade of a beef carcass is determined by evaluating carcass indicators of physiological maturity and marbling, as reflected in the Official USDA Grading Chart (Figure 2).
Maturity. The age of a beef animal has a direct effect on tenderness of the meat it produces. As cattle mature, their meat becomes progressively tougher. To account for the effects of the maturing process on beef tenderness, evaluations of carcass maturity are used in determining USDA Quality Grades. There are five maturity groupings, designated as A through E. Approximate ages corresponding to each maturity classification are:
A — 9 to 30 months
B — 30 to 42 months
C — 42 to 72 months
D — 72 to 96 months
E — more than 96 months
For further information click on this link:   http://fyi.uwex.edu/wbic/files/2011/04/Beef-Grading.pdf
Don’t forget to vote!

The issue of company graders came to a head in June of 2015.

It was revealed that Thomas Foods, the third largest meat processor in Australia, was using a faulty probe to measure fat depth. One unnamed agent said farmers could have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars through the faulty probe.

For their part, AusMeat say they conducted an audit in December 2014 after complaints.  Thomas Foods disputed the incident, saying the faulty probe was discovered only on one particular day in January 2015.

One producer made a statement saying he had received strange fat penalties on December 18 which could not possibly be correct considering the age of the animals.   His vealers (10 months of age) had fat measurements including 28 and 45mm.

Compensation was given to some producers, however it was reported Woolworths also told other producers that if they refunded to one individual… they would have to refund to all farmers who received incorrect penalties!!

At least one producer took his problem to the Senate and the Senate is reputedly looking carefully at recommending that independent graders be employed in processing works. CCA, the Peak Council supposedly representing cattlemen, declined to comment.

Seems to me that even in international sport we have independent umpires, however in such an important situation like meat processing we simply have company graders, who rely on the company for their future prospects and wages.

The Weekly Times have given producers an opportunity to comment by vote.  Do producers want independent graders, or leave the status quo with company graders?  It’s a simple vote – Yes or No

Those who vote for the re-introduction of independent graders (as the Senate has recommended) will add weight to any push for change.

Independent graders in processing works could be worth millions and millions to producers’ bottom lines.


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