TEYS Australia is confident it will be in a position to implement objectively-measured Meat Standards Australia and AusMeat chiller assessment grading in some of its beef processing plants by the middle of this year.
Speaking at Meat & Livestock Australia’s genetics forum in Brisbane yesterday, Teys general manager of corporate affairs, Tom Maguire said the development followed trials using a German-developed E+V quality grading camera at the Teys Wagga plant towards the end of 2017.
A US meat scientist who built the computer algorithms now in use in the USDA objective carcase grading model visited Australia last year, gathering data now being used to build an algorithm to drive camera-based MSA grading in Teys plants, Mr Maguire said.
The prototype of the system will be submitted to Meat Standards Australia and AusMeat for operational approval sometime around May or June. Mr Maguire said his company was confident the system would pass MSA/AusMeat scrutiny. MSA and AusMeat have a set protocol for accuracy to be followed in order for a new technology like this to be approved for use.
The E+V cameras are now available ‘off the shelf’ from the manufacturers, and could be delivered to Australia for commercial adoption within a week or two, once MSA approval is gained, he said.
Teys plans to install the E&V grading cameras at its Wagga, NSW beef plant first, followed by Beenleigh (Qld) soon afterwards. Other company plants may follow. A short working trial would be followed by routine MSA assessment of all eligible carcases, Beef Central was told.
Qualified MSA graders employed by Teys who currently manually grade MSA carcases will operate and manage the cameras.
While some MSA and AusMeat measurements like ossification will continue to be assessed manually on the kill floor, chiller assessment criteria like marbling, meat colour, fat colour and fat depth with be assessed using the E+V cameras.
Challenges over the accuracy of manual MSA grading are reasonably uncommon across the beef industry, but the adoption of camera-based MSA grading will provide a valuable new piece of information – stored digital photographic records of each carcase, for any future dispute settlement over grading outcomes. The accuracy and repeatability of objective grading is another attraction.
Teys will no longer carry out MSA chiller assessment in the chillers themselves, as it has up to now, but in dedicated grading stations housing the cameras.
Teys made a commitment to move towards objective camera based grading three years ago, as part of its vision to move from current averaging systems to towards Value-Based Marketing on each carcase. See this 2015 Beef Central story mapping out the company’s plans.