How is mechanical grading monitored in meat factories?

Meat plants are required to perform a daily system check every morning to ensure that mechanical carcass grading machines are working to sufficient standards, according to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.

Minister Creed was responding to a parliamentary question on what safeguards are in place to ensure proper classification by independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Protocol

Deputy Fitzmaurice noted that the return-to-service protocol of mechanical grading machines requires at least 100 carcasses to be checked to make sure that they are working within the legal tolerances.

The Roscommon-Galway TD also queried the number of carcasses graded by a mechanical machine before it was found to be out of sync and rechecked to determine if their respective grades were accurate on occasions when a mechanical grading machine in a meat processing plant was found to be working out of sync and the factory reverted to manual grading.

Issuing a reply to the questions, the minister said: “Regarding operations in a meat plant operating mechanical classification, at the start of each day the meat plant performs a ‘daily system check’.

“This ensures that the mechanical classification system is within operational tolerances established by the system provider and if any mechanical system fails a morning system check then the mechanical classification system will not operate.

“This process does not require carcass checking at the start of each day.

At each inspection carried out by my department a minimum of 100 carcasses are re-checked against the machine normally in real time on the line during production.

“The manual grade is compared against the machine grade and the machine is scored.

“When a mechanical grading machine is found to be operating outside tolerance the factory is instructed to revert to manual grading straight away,” the minister said.