Today the quality of beef produced in Quebec equals or exceeds the quality of cattle raised in the rest of Canada or in the United States. It is particularly measured by the degree of marbling of the meat. This marbling is a differentiation factor for the product marketed by retailers and the HRI (hotel, restaurant and institutions) sector. Quality is also measured by greater uniformity in carcass weights, genetic history and the age of the animals at slaughter. Here again, Quebec’s product compares favourable to what the competition offers.
The reputation of veal produced in Quebec is already well established. To offer consumers a high-quality product that meets rigorous criteria, grain-fed veal has a compulsory on-farm certification program with production standards and specifications.
A qualified technician visits milk-fed veal farms every week to control livestock quality, ensure the health situation and welfare of each animal and verify compliance with the feed program. This is in addition to the daily care provided by producers.
The cattle grading program is a key component of the Canadian marketing network structure. It establishes common principles for trade, in part through standards reflecting the prevailing market trends. Since payments and prices are based on these standards, they have a twofold effect: they encourage production of excellent quality products and favour rational product marketing.
Beef grading groups the carcasses according to their conformation and lean meat yield (1, 2, 3, 4) and their degree of marbling (A, AA, AAA, Prime). It allows a distinction between animals based on age: younger (A and B) and older (D and E). It can also serve as a basis for choosing the payment to the producer. Grading is meant to assure consumers of an improved product with predictable uniformity and quality for each grade.
In Canada, veal is graded according to the carcass conformation – designated by the letters A, B and C – and the colour of the flesh– rated from 1 to 4.
Veal grading is practiced more in Quebec and most of the calves graded are grain-fed calves. Veal grading is necessary to receive the mark “Quebec Certified Grain-Fed Veal” (Canada grade A1 or A2).
Did you know?
The best grades of beef are Canada Prime, AAA, AA, A. Each differs according to the degree of marbling: Canada Prime beef contains the most marbling.
The three A grades include more than 75% of the beef produced in Canada. Canada Prime beef is mainly sold to restaurants or exported.
How is beef graded?
The grading is done in the slaughter plants or in the processing plants, which are federally or provincially inspected. A carcass may be graded only after it has been inspected and approved according to public health and safety standards and when it bears a provincial or federal inspection legend or stamp.
A certified grader then evaluates the carcass according to criteria that influence the quality of the meat or the yield.
For more information, visit the Canadian Beef website.