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State Cattle Producers Aim To Improve Beef
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi cattle producers are joining a nationwide effort to improve the quality and safety of beef.
In 1987, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association launched the Beef Quality Assurance program, designed to ensure a safe food supply and a good eating experience for every beef consumer.
Dr. Fred Lehman, veterinarian with Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said the program goes beyond the efforts at the feedlots.
"Each component of beef production is just as important as the next," Lehman said. "The goal is for all beef producers to do their best to ensure quality."
Lehman said BQA begins in the earliest stages by examining genetics and making producers more aware of promoting the best genetics for quality meat.
"By paying more attention to health programs, we can prevent diseases and illnesses so that we raise healthier, less stressed cattle that won't require as many medications," he said. "We don't want to use any products that will cause a residue in an animal at slaughter."
If a medication is required, producers must allow time for it to pass from the animal's system before processing.
"When injections are necessary, we encourage growers to consider the injection site locations and the length of time before slaughter," Lehman said. "The neck is a much better place for giving shots because of how that meat is processed. If it must be discarded, the neck has less expensive cuts of meat."
Anytime a shot is given in a muscle, the meat quality will be damaged (toughened) by the scaring.
"Losses from injection site scars, bruising, hide defects (such as from large brands) ultimately impact the money the producers get for cattle," Lehman said. "We want all cattlemen to gauge their treatment of an animal with the consumer in a fine restaurant in mind."
The BQA program uses local veterinarians and county Extension agents to focus efforts on producer awareness and educational training. It addresses the best management practices that influence the safety, quality and wholesomeness of beef and beef products.
"By participating in the Beef Quality Assurance program, Mississippi cattlemen show their commitment to supplying the consumer with the best ans safest product possible," said Sammy Blossom, executive vice president of the Mississippi Cattlemen's Association. "BQA practices go hand-in-hand with our producers' goals of having an efficient and profitable operation."
Part of the training will take place at distance learning sites around the state on Nov. 8. Contact the local Extension Service office for more information on the program.
Contact: Dr. Fred Lehman, (601) 325-3432