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Quality Standard Mark Scheme

Executive Summary

The Quality Standard Mark Scheme specification outlined in this

document includes requirements which are significantly above

current commercial and legal standards applicable to beef and lamb.

The standards apply throughout the supply chain and the preparation

of its meat. They minimise the impact of animal age on eating quality

so that product approved under the scheme provides consumers with

the potential for improved and more consistent eating quality. Where

product performance is not affected by the age of cattle, such as

minced product then this requirement has not been included within

the specification. The scheme also includes maturation regimes and

specifications during the processing of the product.

The summary research underpinning this scheme has been

evaluated by the Meat Scientist of the Agriculture and Horticulture

Development Board, who is an acknowledged expert in this field.

Background

Meat eating quality is a key issue for consumers. This has been

repeatedly reflected in consumer research, where concerns and

disappointments have been expressed about the poor eating

quality of beef, and of lamb in winter months. For beef, however,

consumers have reported an improvement in the eating quality

since the introduction of the Over Thirty Months Scheme.

“Eating quality” includes such factors as tenderness, flavour and

succulence. It is widely accepted that around 80% of the factors

affecting eating quality occur “post farm gate”. There is a body

of research to indicate that the age of both cattle and sheep, and

season of slaughter for sheep, are key influencers on eating quality,

a prime motivator for this Scheme. Further technical information is

available from AHDB Beef & Lamb on request.

In addition to eating quality considerations, trade and retail

customers are increasingly demanding that food is produced

through a recognised and independently audited quality assured

process. Only beef and lamb produced, transported and slaughtered

through an AHDB Beef & Lamb approved assured supply chain will

be eligible to carry the Quality Standard Mark.

Specifications for Quality Standard Mark beef

• Females under the age of 36 months are acceptable. They must

not have been used for breeding or be in calf, they must not be

pregnant.

• Steers under the age of 36 months are acceptable.

• Carcases must have a fat class of between 2–4H and have a

conformation of E–O+.

• For qualifying cattle 30 months or under: Maturation of 7 days

is required on primals used for frying, roasting and grilling (from

slaughter to the final consumer).

• For qualifying cattle aged between 30–36 months: Maturation of

14 days is required on primals used for frying, roasting and grilling

(from slaughter to the final consumer). Alternatively, one of the

post-slaughter processes to enhance tenderness, as outlined in

‘AHDB Beef & Lamb Guidance to Meat Quality’, can be used, ie

Hip bone suspension or electrical stimulation, plus the standard

7 day maturation as outlined for under 30 months cattle.

• Bulls must be no older than 16 months at slaughter. Primals used

for frying, roasting and grilling must be subject to a minimum 14

days maturation (from slaughter to the final consumer).

• Meat from young cattle is subject to specific labelling

requirements based on age at slaughter. Meat from such animals

must be labelled as either veal or beef depending on age.

Therefore, the Quality Standard Mark veal logo will apply to meat

from animals under 8 months of age and the Quality Standard

Mark beef logo for animals over 8 months at slaughter.

Specifications for Quality Standard Mark

beef mince and burgers

Beef mince

• All livestock must be from farms operating in compliance with a

farm assurance scheme and must be transported, slaughtered and

processed in compliance with a quality assurance scheme. Each

such assurance scheme must have been approved by AHDB Beef

& Lamb.

• Cattle of any age or sex are acceptable.

• Beef mince must contain a maximum of 20% fat (as measured

by chemical analysis using British Standard methods),

approximately equivalent to beef having overall 85% visual lean

prior to mincing (final mix stage).

• Beef mince must be 100% beef with no added water, additives,

fillers or other ingredients.

Burgers

• No meat other than beef may be used.

• The beef may be obtained from cattle of any age or sex.

• The beef used must be of a quality such that it would, if minced,

satisfy the requirements of the Quality Standard Mark for beef

mince.

• The minimum beef content of the burger is 70% (as defined by

The Food Labelling Regulations 1996 as amended in 2003).

• The manufacturer or processor must be a registered member of

the Quality Standard Mark Scheme.

• All beef burgers must be produced and labelled in accordance

with current legislative requirements.

Specifications for Quality Standard Mark lamb

• Females must have no permanent incisors and neither have been

used for breeding or pregnant, ie nulliparous and not pregnant.

• Castrated and entire males must have no permanent incisors.

• Carcases must have a fat class of between 2–3H and have a

conformation of between E–O. An equivalent to classification is

acceptable for plants not grading lamb.

• Carcases of any acceptable animal slaughtered during

the period from 1 January through to 30 April of any year, and

born before 1 October of the previous year must be subjected

to minimum of 7 days maturation (and ideally 10 days) from

slaughter to the final consumer. Alternatively, one of the post-

slaughter processes to enhance tenderness, as outlined in

‘AHDB Beef & Lamb Guidance to Meat Quality’, can be used, ie

Aitch bone suspension or electrical stimulation.

References

AHDB Beef & Lamb – Meat Quality and Shelf Life

AHDB Beef & Lamb – Optimising Beef Meat Quality

AHDB Beef & Lamb – Optimising Lamb Meat Quality