Food safety and quality
Food quality, safety and integrity are vital to all points along the red meat supply chain.
Healthy livestock are the basis for Australia's broad market access and high productivity. As an island continent, Australia has a natural barrier to animal and crop diseases, backed by strict quarantine regulations. Several measures are in place to ensure that the safety and quality of Australian red meat is at its highest.
MLA strongly supports keeping food safe by assisting the Australian red meat industry manage food safety and quality. MLA is the leading provider of research and development solutions for Australia's red meat industry and is determined to help the industry maintain its excellent reputation for product safety, both in Australia and overseas.
SAFEMEAT is the food safety partnership between the red meat industry and government. The primary role is overseeing and promoting sound management systems in the red meat industry to ensure the delivery of safe and hygienic products.
A key program within SAFEMEAT is the Microbiological Food Safety Research and Development Program, which is designed to develop a sound scientific basis for food safety and microbiological risk management. SAFEMEAT places importance on identifying knowledge gaps for food safety risks along the supply chain and conducting research to improve the understanding of foodborne hazards and maintain the status of Australian red meat as safe and healthy.
Standards and systems
The Australian red meat industry strives for quality and consistency in its product. AUS-MEAT sets the standards for industry and Meat Standards Australia (MSA) ensures quality at the consumer level. Integrity systems such as Livestock Production Assurance (LPA), the National feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS) and the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) have also been developed to verify and ensure food safety and quality along the supply chain.
AUS-MEAT is the national organisation responsible for quality standards and accurate descriptions of red meat. AUS-MEAT develops, maintains and reviews accreditation standards on behalf of the Australian red meat industry, which are designed to protect the industry's reputation and integrity in relation to sales, distribution and exports.
AUS-MEAT has a common language used throughout the marketing chain to ensure all sectors can identify and meet customer requirements. It has established specific and high accreditation standards for the processing sector to ensure effective quality assurance procedures are in place every step of the way. In addition to this a quality management systems has been established to cover all aspects of the supply chain.
Meat Standards Australia
Meat Standards Australia (MSA) is a grading system for beef and sheepmeat that labels the product with a guaranteed grade and best cooking method to maintain consistency in eating quality. When MSA beef and sheepmeat are cooked as described, the eating quality is guaranteed at the labelled grade.
A wide range of cattle and sheep management practices, processing systems, cuts, ageing periods and cooking methods have been researched to determine the impact each has on eating quality.
Livestock Production Assurance
Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) is an on-farm standards and quality assurance program where livestock producers are required to register a unique property code, formally assess their production and husbandry systems and maintain accurate records. The program also involves independent audits that are conducted to ensure the program's integrity is maintained.
Post-farm food safety
The red meat industry's commitment to food safety continues beyond the farm gate, with a unique set of industry quality assurance programs covering livestock transport, feedlots and saleyards. These include the NFAS and the NLIS programs.
NFAS is an initiative designed to ensure product quality and integrity in beef feedlots. It covers a wide range of environmental, animal welfare, veterinary practices and, feed ingredients and residues standards. The NLIS is a traceability system to document the movement of cattle, sheep and goats and provides assurance of product integrity, safety and market eligibility.
Processing quality assurance
At the processing level, Australia's food safety and quality record is a result of Australian Government regulation and industry quality assurance based on food science. This is achieved through regulation and residue testing by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).
In addition to this, Australian export processing plants have quality assurance (QA) measures in the form of mandatory QA for product description and the implementation HACCP-based QA internationally. Australian export-registered meat processing plants must also have an approved Halal program operating if they are to produce Halal products.
Food safety and quality is critical to consumers. An ongoing focus on food safety is a priority for the Australian red meat industry. MLA is involved in meat safety and education at an industry and a consumer level providing information on key food safety issues throughout the food chain.
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