Assuring the eating quality of MSA beef requires standards to be maintained from paddock to plate.
Cattle that meet the MSA requirements are graded at MSA licensed abattoirs. A National Vendor Declaration (NVD) and a MSA vendor declaration, which are checked by the grader and livestock personnel, are sent with the cattle.
Each carcase is graded by an MSA accredited grader with an eating quality grade assigned for each individual cut.
An MSA Index value is now generated for every carcase that meets MSA minimum requirements. Read more about the MSA Index.
How carcases are graded
Each carcase is identified with a carcase ticket and the following information is recorded in the Data Capture Unit:
- Body number and lot number – cattle from individual vendors will be kept in separate lots
- Carcase weight – important in determining weight for maturity
- Sex – male or female
- Tropical breed content – the hump height is also measured to guarantee the most accurate eating quality grade
- Hanging method – determined as being either Achilles hang or tenderstretch
- Hormonal growth promotants – will affect MSA score obtained for different muscles
- Ossification – measured to determine carcase maturity
- Marbling – using both the MSA and AUS-MEAT measurement systems
- Rib fat – a minimum of 3mm is required, measured at the AUS-MEAT standard site. Overall fat cover is also assessed including any hide puller damage
- pH and temperature – pH is measured using a pH meter and must be below 5.71. The temperature should be below 12˚C, according to AUS-MEAT standards.
Other measurements that do not impact eating quality can be taken at the customer's request, including:
- Eye muscle area (EMA) – measured in square cm using an AUS-MEAT grid
- Fat colour – recorded using AUS-MEAT chips from 0 (white) to 9 (yellow)
- Meat colour – recorded using AUS-MEAT standard meat colour chips.
If the carcase meets all MSA and company specifications, it is eligible to have cuts packed and sold as MSA.
Find a MSA processor
Use the MSA locator or download a list to find an MSA licensed processor.
MSA grading factsheets
- How MSA beef is graded
- Tropical breeds and beef eating quality
- Maximising eating quality with tropical breed cattle
- Ossification and beef eating quality
- Marbling and beef eating quality
- pH and beef eating quality
- pH-temperature decline and beef eating quality
- Tenderstretch and beef eating quality
- Ageing and beef eating quality
- Hormone growth promotants and beef eating quality
- On farm management checklist
Phone: 1800 111 672