Minister’s letter clarifies beef grading machine accuracy

It has been confirmed that the figures on the accuracy of beef grading machines at departmental inspections in 2018 stood at 94.8% for fat cover – 10% higher than was first disclosed.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has made the clarification in a letter to Galway-Roscommon independent TD, Denis Naughten.

In the letter, Minister Creed said the figure of 84.8% for fat cover grading accuracy is incorrect.

He explained that this was a “typographical error” and added that the beef grading machines accuracy for grading fat cover “should have read 94.8%”.

It was also outlined that, according to legislation, grading machines should achieve at least 60% accuracy for both conformation and fat cover.

However, deputy Naughten has questioned this level, saying: “How can the Department of Agriculture stand over a legal tolerance limit set for beef grading machines currently in use in meat plants at a mere 60% accuracy?”

Naughten expressed his concern saying: “The minister is now telling us that when inspectors call to these factories, machines can be 94.8% accurate for fat cover and 91.8% accurate for conformation.”

Concluding, Naughten stressed that “farmers should be able to monitor their cattle as they are graded in meat plants”.

New beef grading technology

Regarding new technologies, Minister Creed has also recently confirmed that his department is supervising an “industry-led trial which is examining the latest technology in terms of cameras and lights for use in the mechanical classification system”.

The trial is examining the effectiveness of using digital cameras and LED lights as part of the carcass classification system.

He has outlined that the trial is in “an advanced stage” and noted that, subject to confirmation of its effectiveness, he “would expect the industry to implement this technology in due course”.

However, he outlined that “this is a matter for commercial consideration”.