Comments Requested on U.S. Beef Grading Modernization

Lizzy Schultz

ncba-200 The USDA Ag Marketing Service (AMS) is requesting comments from U.S. cattle producers on the potential modernizing of the current standards for grading carcass beef to include considering dentition for age verification.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) requested this comment period and estimates the change would yield beef producers approximately $59 million in added revenue.

Many cattle producers are in support of modernizing the current U.S. standards for grades of carcass beef to include the use of dentition for age verification because the move will allow for an alternate method of classifying beef carcasses into maturity groupings, thus allowing additional carcasses to qualify for the higher USDA grades of Prime, Choice and Select without a significant reduction in the consistency of those grades in predicting palatability.

A recent Beef Checkoff-funded study evaluated the relationship between USDA carcass maturity and eating quality of strip loin steaks produced by fed steers and heifers that had been classified as less than 30 months of age using dentition, with results showing that sensory panelists were unable to detect any differences in tenderness, juiciness or flavor between steaks from carcasses classified by USDA graders using current skeletal and lean maturity observations.

Projections from NCBA show that this modernization would yield producers approximately $59 million in additional revenue by removing discounts for cattle identified as greater than 30 months of age.

NCBA supports the addition of the following paragraph to section 54.104, paragraph k, of the Standards:

Carcasses of grain-fed steers and heifers determined to be less than 30 months old either by dentition (assessed at the time of slaughter under the supervision of USDA-FSIS) or by documentation of actual age (verified through a USDA Process Verified Program or USDA Quality System Assessment) are included in the youngest maturity group for carcasses recognized as “beef” (A-maturity) regardless of skeletal evidences of maturity.

Comments can be made electronically by clicking here

Ag Group, Beef, Beef Checkoff, Food, Meat, NCBA

Comments 3

  1. If the “modernization includes FURTHER confusing consumers, you need to rethink what you’re trying to do !!!!

  2. does that mean that any animal that is classed over 30 months not qualify as A maturity? Or is it then ditermined by skeletal evidence?

  3. This is all about brining grade standards in line with current science and giving inspectors another option in determining age at time of harvest. NCBA estimates that over 1% of fed cattle are incorrectly identified as over 30 months of age using current skeletal and physical maturity methods. With the addition of dentition as an option for age identification, that will correctly bring additional cattle into A maturity, providing the consumer juicy, tender and flavorful beef; and adding as much as $59 million in value for cattle producers.

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