Camera-based MSA carcase grading primed for launch


Jon Condon, BEEF Central (Australia) 

February 6, 2020


AFTER an exhaustive assessment process, final approval has been granted by the AusMeat Language and Standards Committee for the use of objective digital camera technology in performing Meat Standards Australia grading.


Teys Australia is set to be the first processor to implement the E+V camera-based MSA grading technology, at the company’s Wagga Wagga facility in NSW.


An implementation date is anticipated for early March, and a roll-out plan is in place to adopt the units at Beenleigh and other Teys processing sites later in 2020.


Two versions of the German-made E+V cameras – a chiller assessment format and a whole carcase version – have been under trial at Teys Wagga and Lakes Creek Rockhampton for the past two and a half years, with performance trials submitted for AusMeat standards approval last year. A repeated study will be conducted at Wagga at the end of March, to ensure the cameras are continuing to perform within required parameters.


The chiller assessment version of the E+V camera assesses MSA traits including meat colour, fat colour and both AusMeat and MSA marbling, at the quartered rib site. Work is still progressing on approval for the unit’s ability to assess eye-muscle area, which if successful, will eventually be employed with a separate whole-carcase E+V camera to define carcase yield.


It is only the rib-eye camera which has been approved by AusMeat for MSA grading use at this stage – specifically for assessment of meat and fat colour and marbling traits.


“The camera system is providing a better tool for graders to measure traits on which we pay MSA cattle suppliers,” Teys’ Tom Maguire said. “It’s about building consistency, confidence and trust in the process,” he said.


The introduction of camera-based MSA grading did not greatly reduce manual grader workload, because the grader still has to assess pH decline, temperature decline, evenness of carcase fat cover and in some cases, hump height on each carcase.


“What the camera does provide, however, is greater transparency with MSA cattle suppliers, and assured consistency in grading performance on the four traits described,” Mr Maguire said.


“As Teys moves progressively towards our long-term vision of value-based marketing, that trust along the supply chain is a critically important – and the new MSA grading camera helps reinforce that,” he said.


While current manual MSA graders working across the industry operate at a high-degree of proficiency, the fact is the process contains a ‘human factor’, and repeatability and consistency are important.


The new E+V cameras have been proven to be...