Classification of South African Beef - A key to consumer satisfaction
Do you know where your beef is coming from?
To ensure that you are not disappointed in the quality of your beef, only buy classified meat products. Therefore request your meat outlet for classified meat. Furthermore you as the consumer must be aware of the hygiene conditions at the outlet from where you want to purchase your beef.
Meat classification is a mark of quality that indicates the value differences (money value) between different qualities of meat.
In order to ensure that the different meat qualities are handled according to predetermined norms in legislation, SAMIC (South African Meat Industry Company) has been appointed by the Government to monitor uniform standards. SAMIC also liaises with producers, abattoirs, retailers and consumers in order to ensure uniform standards are applied.
For meat traders provide meat classification a strong basis for:
- To describe the carcases in simple terms for purchasing.
- To use a variety in the market for optimal consumer satisfaction.
- Price differences.
- Determination of sales prices.
If abattoirs decide to register with the Government to make use of the voluntary meat classification system the following requirements:
- Every abattoir must be registered by Product Standards at the National Department of Agriculture in order to obtain a unique identification number.
- Every abattoir must acquire the necessary stamps and roller-mark equipment for the relevant specie that is slaughtered.
- Every abattoir owner must comply with regulations as determined by legislation.
- Every abattoir must comply with the Meat Safety Act (Act 40 of 2000).
The following are the characteristics of meat classification:
This code means that the colour of the roller mark on the carcase is PURPLE and is an indication that the meat is from a young animal (no permanent incisors) and thus the most tender meat.
This code means that the colour of the roller mark on the carcase is GREEN and is an indication that the meat is from a young animal in transition to an adult animal (1-2 permanent incisors) and thus tender meat.
This code means that the colour of the roller mark on the carcase is BROWN and is an indication that the meat is from an adult animal (1-6 permanent incisors) and thus less tender but with a lot of flavour.
This code means that the colour of the roller mark on the carcase is RED and is an indication that the meat is from an adult animal (>6 permanent incisors) and thus less tender but perfect for stews.
It is the right of the consume to choose how much visible fat they prefer.
Fat classes are indicated in the following manners:
000 - means no visible fat on carcase
111 - means a very lean carcase
222 - means a lean carcase
333 - means a medium fat carcase
444 - means a fat carcase
555 - means an over-far carcase
666 - means an excessively fat carcase
Although the meat classification system contains five characteristics the above mentioned two (age and fatness) are of importance during purchasing. The other three characteristics are discussed shortly to give more information.
Since some consumers purchase in bulk (hind or fore quarter), most purchases are done on visual selection. This means that the consumer will buy on what is seen by the way of conformation of the carcase.
Conformation comprises five classes defined in the following manner:
1 - a very flat carcase
2 - a flat carcase
3 - a medium carcase
4 - a round carcase
5 - a very round carcase
This category is only used where possible sections of the carcase is cut off after slaughtering as a result of possible bruises or any other aesthetic reasons.
Damage comprises three classes, defined as the following:
1 - Slight damage where very little meat was removed.
2 - Moderate damage where fat and some meat of certain muscle were removed to get rid of meat and fat that would not be fit for human consumption.
3 - Serious damage where muscle must have been cut deep to get rid of meat and fat not fit for human consumption.
Usually the damage characteristic is used by traders to purchase meat to re-sell since the damage influences the price of the meat if the trader is not aware of what is being bought. This means that the trader will purchase these carcases at a lower prices, depending on the level of damage and on which part of the carcase the damages occur.
Only bull and ram carcases as well as of a hamel, a kapater or an ox showing signs of late castration in the AB-, B- en C-age classes are marked with a BLACK “MD” stamp in order to inform prospective buyers that these carcases are from male animals since the taste and colour of the meat might differ from other carcases.
If you want to buy your red meat with confidence, insist on any of the roller marks according to your choice and preferences as indicated above.
The aim of the meat classification roller mark on your beef carcases is to reassure the trader and customer regarding specific preferences as well as guaranteed quality meat during purchasing.