Grading

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. Temperature should be below 12˚C according to AUS-MEAT standards
  • Meat colour – recorded using AUS-MEAT standard meat colour chips. Meat colours in the range of 1B to 3 are accepted depending on the abattoir or brand specification

Other measurements that do not impact on eating quality can be taken at the customers’ 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)

If the carcase meets all MSA and company specifications, it is eligble 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 abattoir.

MSA grading factsheets

More information

Phone: 1800 111 672
Email: [email protected]