The cattle grading system in Irish beef processing facilities has been criticised and has been deemed outdated in recent times. There have also been calls made to improve the grading facilities in meat plants.

According to a Department of Agriculture trial – which took place at Slaney Foods in Co. Wexford – a new and improved grading machine, equipped with a digital camera and LED lights, would result in a higher accuracy when it comes to grading cattle in beef processing plants.

The full report – which can be viewed here – explains how the trial was conducted and what was involved.

The trial itself, which was carried out over a 10-month period (May 2018 and March 2019), involved some 2,100 carcasses. For the purpose of the trial, both the old system and new grading equipment was used.

Across the 2,100 carcasses, the results indicate that the digital camera and LED lights grading machine was 1.1% more accurate in terms of conformation and 7.6% more accurate in terms of fat score.

Therefore, the application of the modernised equipment results in a better, more robust and reliable performance of classification.

The trial results show that the modified machine delivers a performance beyond the legal EU standard. It also highlights an improvement in accuracy when compared to earlier trials.