2017/18 National Beef Quality Audit

Project Title

National Beef Quality Audit


Mark Klassen klassenm@cattle.ca

Mark Klassen (Canadian Cattlemen’s Association), Jennifer Aalhus, Manuel Juarez and Colin Gill (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), and Joyce Van Donkersgoed (Consultant)

Status Project Code
Completed March, 2018 BQU.07.13


Benchmarking key beef quality attributes and cattle production practices to identify strengths as well as opportunities for further improvement requires periodic consumer satisfaction and carcass quality audits, and economic assessment.


  • To measure beef quality improvements made since the previous audit
  • To quantify ongoing carcass defect issues

What they did

A National Plant Cooler and Processing Floor Carcass Audit  benchmarked carcass grading performance and carcass quality and offal attributes.

An Injection Site survey benchmarked the frequency and location of carcass injection site lesions.

A Shelf Life Microbiology survey benchmarked microbiological and other parameters related to shelf life.

A series of audits and surveys were conducted. A National Retail Audit benchmarked Consumer Satisfaction with beef eating quality and satisfaction, validated by a Beef Tenderness Survey involving objective laboratory and trained panel tenderness assessments.

A Production Practices and Quality Priorities Survey of feedlots, packers, retailers, and food service operators identified industry quality enhancement priorities and current practices.

What they learned

Results from the National Plant Cooler and Processing Floor Carcass Audit and Injection Site Survey are available here.

Results from the Shelf Life Microbiology survey found that the microbiological condition of retail beef steaks has remained consistent over time. Very low numbers of generic E. coli were recovered from very few steaks. Levels of spoilage microbes were much lower than the upper limit for the shelf life of beef.

Results from the National Retail Audit are available here.

Results from the Production Practices and Quality Priorities Survey are available here.

What it Means

Beef Quality Audits like this help industry identifies where improvements are being made, where further improvements are possible, and economically meaningful opportunities for further improvement throughout the beef production chain.