December 15, 2017
US recognises teeth-based method to classify maturity of beef carcasses
The US said it is revising its standards for grades of beef carcass, adding dentition as additional method to classify maturity of carcasses.
Dentition is a method for measuring the age of cattle based on their teeth. Cattle with fewer than three incisors are classified as less than 30 months of age (MOA). Three or more incisors indicate cattle are more than 30 MOA.
Besides dentition, the US Department of Agriculture has added documentation of actual age as additional method for classifying maturity of carcasses.
The US National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) welcomed the revision, saying it would benefit beef producers. "By basing carcass quality grades on the most current scientific data available, we will improve grading accuracy and ensure that producers are getting maximum value out of each head", NCBA President Craig Uden said in a statement.
Prior to the change, a significant portion of cattle under 30 MOA were incorrectly deemed ineligible for USDA quality grades because of limitations in the process used to assess their age. Dentition and/or documentation of actual age will ensure that more carcasses are eligible for USDA quality grades and allow producers to maximise the value of each head, the NCBA said.
A beef industry working group has estimated that incorrect classification of carcasses cost the industry almost $60 million annually. Carcasses incorrectly classified were sold at an estimated discount of nearly $275 per head.