Going Down Under to Find Grassfed Beef that Makes the Grade
Many of today’s chefs are looking for proteins with the right pedigree of top-notch eating quality, sustainability and humane treatment, all while avoiding antibiotics or added hormones. And today’s guests are right in line, shopping their values right off the menu, which makes grassfed beef a sought-after item both on the menu and in the grocery store.
But getting consistent, high-quality supply can be a challenge, in no small part because traditional marbling-based grading methods like USDA prime/select/choice don’t necessarily apply to naturally lean grassfed beef. As a result, high-quality grassfed cuts that eat very well don’t fit the criteria. With about 3% of domestic beef production being grassfed, getting supplies at scale is also a challenge.
Whether you require high quality, table-ready cuts or manufacturing beef for either foodservice or retail items, we invite you to make Australian beef part of your specifications. – Catherine Golding
So, if you want to serve grassfed beef – and have the assurance of consistent, high quality supply – what can you do? Australia’s MSA grading system has the answer. Chef’s Roll caught up with Catherine Golding, Business Development Manager for Meat & Livestock Australia’s U.S. office to learn more.
What makes MSA different?
First, the system was developed from a consumer taste perspective. We started with what consumers like when they are eating beef and worked back to determine what characteristics in the beef contributed to what they liked. Over 100,000 consumer taste tests around the globe later, we worked out the unique factors contributing to the eating quality on a piece of beef.
There turns out to be at least 16 different factors at play including breed, use of growth hormones (HGP), pH, age, and yes, marbling (though it only contributes to about 20% of the eating quality score). Each of the factors impacts the tenderness, juiciness, flavor and overall liking, and producers can work to get a better result at every stage from paddock to the plate.
Finally, MSA grades are specific to each cut. Instead of a single grade for an entire carcass, each primal gets its own grade based on cut and intended cooking method.
How does this help U.S. Operators?
Operators get consistency. When they buy a cut of Australian grassfed beef with an eating quality grade, they know that that cut will eat according to the quality they selected. At the end of the day it’s just one less thing to worry about. Taking one more issue off that pile and letting them serve grassfed beef with confidence helps them out.
For more information about MSA, or to join a private Facebook group of chefs interested in Aussie grassfed beef and lamb, contact Catherine and the True Aussie team at MLAteam@summitmg.com.