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 and makes it possible to supply the different markets with differentiated products. 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 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, 5) 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. The top beef grades are Canada Prime, AAA, AA, and A. These grades differ in how much marbling they have, with Canada Prime beef having the most.
These grades differ in how much marbling they have, with Canada Prime beef having the most.
The three A grades account for over 75% of beef produced in Canada. Canada Prime is mainly sold in restaurants or exported. The Canadian Beef Grading Agency is responsible for the impartial and accurate assessment of veal carcasses.
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 : the Quebec Certified Grain-Fed Veal program. For producers, adherence to this certification program is about more than just the certificate they receive; it speaks to the origin of their product and to their commitment to a notion of quality that engages them in their relations with the market and with consumers.
Each milk-fed veal calf farm receives a weekly visit from a qualified technician who performs a quality control check on the animals, ensuring that they are healthy, that the proper dietary regime is being followed, and that welfare requirements are being met. This attention is over and above the day-to-day care provided by producers. Most Quebec milk-fed veal calves are certified under Canada’s Verified Veal quality program. This assures our customers that Canadian veal is of the finest quality.
Veal calves are characterized by their young age (generally five to seven months), the feed they receive, and their weight. Milk-fed veal calves come from dairy cows, and most of their diet is milk. By contrast, grain-fed veal calves must receive grain feed comprising at least 50% corn during the finishing stage.
Consumers enjoy veal for its tenderness and subtle flavour.
Veal carcasses with good to excellent muscling and some creamy white fat deposits are graded CANADA A. Those with low to medium muscling and an excess of fat cover are graded CANADA B. Veal carcasses failing to meet the requirements of CANADA B are graded CANADA C.
All veal carcasses are then graded for meat colour. The veal grader uses a colour meter to do this. Veal carcasses are segregated into four colour classifications, based on meter reading values. The bright pink or lighter colour range is given a grade of 1. As meat colour becomes more pink or red, grades of 2, 3, and 4 are assigned. Quebec Certified Grain-Fed Veal is assigned a code of Canada A1 or A2.
The Canadian Beef Grading Agency is responsible for the impartial and accurate assessment of veal carcasses.