The Canadian beef industry, which includes producers, packers, veterinarians, retailers, the food service industry and government, is committed to maintaining high standards in safety practices.
Quality assurance in the beef industry is the goal of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point or HACCP program. HACCP is internationally respected as the best system for producing safe food. HACCP is aimed at preventing biological, chemical, or physical contamination of products that would pose a safety risk for consumers. It utilizes a total quality management approach for the prevention of problems.
This common sense program can be applied to all aspects of beef production and handling. Canadian packing plants are well advanced in developing and adopting HACCP systems. HACCP programs add new scientific approaches to inspection, improving upon the traditional inspection methods.
Trained inspectors and/or veterinarians visually examine animals for evidence of recent disease or health treatment. The carcasses, organs and finished products are carefully inspected to ensure that Canada's high standards are met.
As a result of careful product handling, Canada has earned a reputation for assuring that food is safe and wholesome for consumers.
The Canadian Beef Grading Agency (CBGA) delivers grading services for Canadian beef to provide a standardized measurement system to support pricing decisions and to support greater consistency and predictability in the eating quality of specific grades of beef.
The CBGA is accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to deliver grading services for beef in Canada. The grade standards are set by the Federal Government based on recommendations from the Industry/Government Consultative Committee on Beef Grading.
In addition to its grading functions, the CBGA is involved in certification of brands such as those for beef produced from a specific breed of cattle. This independent verification assures buyers that the standards for source-verified branded beef programs are being met. The CBGA is a private, non-profit corporation.
Grading is intended to place carcasses into uniform groups of similar quality, yield, and value, in order to facilitate marketing and production decisions. It may be used as a basis for producer settlement. Grading attempts to ensure that consumers have an improved product through greater consistency and predictability in the eating quality of specific grades of beef, however grading is not mandatory.
A thorough understanding of the general characteristics, dressing and chilling practices and presentation as they pertain to a beef carcass are essential if the Grading Regulations are to be correctly applied. The grader is entrusted with the classification of a carcass. Every carcass bears a value based on its quality and yield. It is imperative that each carcass assessment be accurate and consistent with the Regulations.
A carcass may only be graded after it has been inspected and approved for health and safety standards and bears a federal or provincial meat inspection legend or stamp. A certified grader assesses a carcass based on several criteria influencing either carcass quality or yield.
The physical marking of the carcass with the grade is done as clearly and neatly as possible so that the grade name is easily recognized.
When beef is fabricated into wholesale and/or retail cuts, the grade label on the box must correspond to the carcass grade stamp. Although the expression “or higher” is also allowed if the box contains more than one of the Canada A, Canada AA, Canada AAA, and Canada Prime Grades (i.e. Canada AA or higher).