Good animal health and welfare practices can positively impact meat quality. By placing an emphasis on keeping animals stress-free, Australia’s world-leading eating-quality program delivers the highest quality from paddock to plate.
A key purchase driver for red meat consumers is the quality of the meat they eat. For beef, some of the main factors affecting eating quality include maturity, fat coverage, marbling and pH levels. Eating quality can also be influenced by factors such as the health of the animal, their diet and how they’re handled.
The Australian red meat industry adheres to strict guidelines that ensure livestock are raised with proper nutrition, good mustering and transportation practices, and a minimum of stress. It’s an approach farmers like Ryan Willing embrace whole-heartedly:
Australia has a beef, lamb and sheepmeat eating-quality program called Meat Standards Australia (MSA). MSA ensures high quality is maintained by providing beef and sheep supply guidelines to optimise the eating quality potential of the animal and give consumers confidence in their purchases. It’s a paddock-to-plate system that is focused on monitoring and managing all critical control points that impact eating quality along the supply chain. The MSA Graded logo on Australian beef and lamb helps consumers identify consistent quality meat.
MSA-trained graders measure and collate information, including maturity, colour, pH, acidity, marbling and fat distribution to determine the eating quality of each cut of meat. Over the past decade, the Meat Standards Australia average grade index of Australian beef has increased from 56% to 58%, indicating an overall improvement in eating quality. (Source)
Ethical meat is good meat. It’s meat that comes from animals that have been raised with their wellbeing as a priority throughout their lives. That means animals have:
been raised in accordance with standards and guidelines
been given appropriate pain relief when surgical husbandry has been performed
been treated humanely at all times.
The Australian red meat industry is absolutely committed to producing ethical meat, recognising that consumers rightly see ethically-produced meat as being an important indicator of meat quality.
For Charlie Arnott, who describes his approach to farming and meat production as 'grass-growing' to provide his animals with a smorgasbord of food, the key to delivering consumer confidence in the quality of red meat and the ethical approach to its production lies in being completely honest and transparent:
Organic meat comes from animals that graze freely. In Australia, most cattle, sheep and goats are organically raised for the majority of their lives, grazing freely on high-fibre grasses in pasture-based environments. Their on-farm welfare is of the highest standard, delivered by farmers who care deeply about their animals’ wellbeing.
Towards the end of their lives, approximately one-third of a herd is moved to a feedlot to help them reach their meat-quality potential thanks to a nutritious grain-based diet that provides the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, fibre, minerals and vitamins. To ensure they receive the highest standards of welfare, low-stress stock-handling techniques are used, and every animal is monitored and cared for by nutritionists and vets. Studies even show that the stress levels of animals reduces during their time in feedlots. (Source)