Beef Quality Corner- 2000 National Beef Quality Audit
Livestock Update, July 2001
Bill R. McKinnon, Extension Animal Scientist, Marketing, VA Tech
Is the beef industry making progress toward improving the quality and consistency of beef? According to the results of the 2000 Beef Quality Audit, the industry is reducing the incidence of product defects.
The 2000 National Beef Quality Audit is the third in a series of comprehensive audits of the status of the quality and consistency of fed cattle and beef. Previous checkoff funded audits were conducted in 1991 and 1995. The audits are conducted in three phases. Phase one is a series of surveys of producers, packers, purveyors, restaurateurs, and retailers. Phase two is a series of audits of cattle and carcasses at packing plants. The final phase is a strategy workshop of industry representatives to review the findings of the surveys and audits and then develop strategies for improvement.
Compared to the 1995 audit, the most recent survey revealed several areas of improvement. There was a higher percentage of Choice and Prime carcasses with 51% of the total fed cattle surveyed versus 48% in the 1995 audit. The percent Prime carcasses rose to 2%, up from 1.3% in 1995. There were also fewer "hardbone" or "B- maturity" carcasses at 2.5%, down from 4.3% in 1995.
It was impressive to note the improvement in the percentage of polled or dehorned cattle increased to 77% of the slaughter mix. The previous survey found only 68% of the cattle had no horns.
The incidence of injection site lesions in top sirloin butts dropped to 3% from the 22% incidence level of the early 1990's. Unfortunately there has been an increased number of injection lesions found in the round. With the amount of publicity the issue of injection site lesions in the rump has received, it is somewhat discouraging that the industry must still address the problem.
The final phase of the audit identified ten challenges that the industry must still address.
The industry has made measurable progress in reducing defects. The beef quality audit process has proven to be an effective tool in identifying problem areas and publicizing strategies with which the industry can attack quality and consistency issues.