Friday, September 26, 2014

Charlie Gracey wants beef grading updated

It's been 22 years since Canada's beef grading system has changed, and it's overdue for an overhaul, says Charlie Gracey, the guru of the Canadian beef industry.

Gracey says today's grading system puts too much emphasis on marbling - i.e. fat sprinkled throughout steaks and roasts - resulting in a reduced yield of lean meat per carcass.

Farmers gain if they hit the top grade - AAA - with adequate marbling, but then they lose by failing to hit the top yield - Y1 - category.

Gracey says there are some cattle that can manage to have adequate marbling for excellent eating quality and also achieve Y1 yield.

The agency that's in charge of Canadian beef grading has been calling for an overhaul for at least two years, but it seems the federal government is waiting for the United States to make its move first.

It has issued a proposal and has announced a period for consultations. The biggest change is yield calculations which have stayed the same for 50 years.

Both Canadians and Americans are interested in electronic grading to replace the judgement calls involved in visual grading by people.