Strong support for MSA in WA

28 Oct, 2005 08:45 PM
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MEAT Standards Australia (MSA) grading numbers increased 46pc in WA during 2004-05 to a total of 206,359 cattle.

The percentage of cattle presented and meeting MSA standards in WA increased to 89.5pc in September.

The 89.5pc increase has been attributed to producers and processors employing best practice techniques.

Producers and processors are using MSA carcase feedback to optimise beef eating quality throughout the supply chain.

August and September saw an improvement of 7pc compared to the same time in 2004.

WA has 2204 MSA registered producers and eight licensed processors.

A dedicated trainer has been allocated to WA to work with the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) marketing team to assist retailers and food service outlets.

The expected outcome of the training is to further increase demand for beef through the use of MSA graded product and innovative value adding techniques.

Dardanup Butchering Company (DBC) is a WA processor supporting MSA grading and producing the high MSA grading beef brand Tender Ridge.

DBC operations manager Brian Pittendreigh said Tender Ridge was performing well and being used at many food service outlets.

He said the main reason behind WA's increase in MSA compliance was customer demand.

"The guarantee of quality that MSA grading provides is especially sought after in food service outlets with more and more chefs asking for MSA graded meat," Mr Pittendreigh said.

"It is a technology where the end result revolves around the one thing we all really want, eating quality."

"Before this science was available people could only look at meat to judge its eating quality; MSA has taken the guesswork out of it."

Mr Pittendreigh said customers endorsed good eating quality and would go back to a butcher that provided it.

He said this had led to many butchers choosing MSA graded meat so as to retain and gain customers.

Mr Pittendreigh said MSA grading was mainly a domestic marketing tool but there were programs being developed to use it in export markets.

"Grading percentages are getting better as farmers become more aware of the problems associated with downgrading," Mr Pittendreigh said.

"Producers are not changing the feed their cattle are on prior to slaughter, are more careful not to increase the stress of animals either through transport or yarding and are paying attention to breeding, handling and the quality of their cattle."

Mr Pittendreigh said nearly all MSA abattoirs bought cattle on the premise they would meet MSA grading criteria with cattle falling outside grading requirements receiving a price penalty.

Northcliffe beef producer and DBC supplier John Delagola said he was pleased with the MSA system and felt there would be higher compliance in WA if more processors were MSA accredited.

Mr Delagola said he had not had any problems with MSA grading, however, there had been some concerns raised over temperature at point of knocking.

He said unless temperature was maintained at a critical point when cattle were processed MSA scores could be altered.

Mr Delagola said in general producers were seeing the benefits of MSA grading with butchers also happy and benefiting from the classification system.

"You can't fault the system," Mr Delagola said.

"The higher cattle grades, the less the penalties.

"Cattle lose 20 cents per kilogram if they don't meet MSA standards.

"We started off with a 90pc MSA average and now have close to 99pc; we are happy with the system."

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