Farmers concerns about carcass trim can be easily laid to rest, writes Oisin Murnion, National Beef Association (NBA).
Of the 450,000 cattle killed in Northern Ireland annually, 50p per head is collected for grading. However, since 2011, grading has moved from manual to electronic visual image assessment (VIA).
“DARD currently inspects meat plants roughly every six weeks. But farmers feel that closer scrutiny is required.”Oisin Murnion, National Beef Association (NBA)
Murnion argues that the continuation of the 50p levy per animal, £225,000 per year, means that farmers are effectively paying for equipment for the factories, and that it would be better spent employing two or three full-time ex-graders to inspect factories.
“DARD currently inspects meat plants roughly every six weeks,” he said. “But farmers feel that closer scrutiny is required.”
“There are concerns that animals are being over-trimmed, especially on the neck muscle, which is then making its way into mince products, this must be addressed.
“While DARD are doing a good job and producing regular figures on trim, it is based on a once-in-six-weeks visit to each factory. Further, their access to plants is restricted by security and takes at least half an hour to get clearance.
“£225,000 is more than enough to pay experienced ex-graders and admin staff to inspect meat plants on a spot check basis and it would be well worth the money to the farmer,” Murnion said.