Our Cow push for a change to how red meat is labelled

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A push has been made to start labelling meat just like eggs, but it could make meat more expensive.

The Meat Standards Australia quality index was developed by the farming industry to improve the quality of red meat based on 1.7 million consumer taste tests from 250,000 people across 13 countries.

However, this doesn’t take into account what the animal is fed. Instead, it focusses on things like the sex of the animal, its weight and marbling. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), claims such as “organic certification” are not required for a product supplied in Australia to be sold as such.

Bianca Tarrant, a NSW farmer and co-founder of Our Cow, told news.com.au that there should be a grading system, similar to eggs, for feedlot and free-range cows.

This would include information on whether a cow has been grass-fed, grain-fed, if it’s organic, or hormone-free.

“I think it’s about giving consumers the knowledge so they can make an educated decision on the produce that they are buying,” she said.

“[When it comes to] Meat Standards Australia — it’s not a requirement for beef to be MSA graded. And the grading doesn’t necessarily mean whether it’s grass fed or grain fed or industrially farmed or free range or anything like that.

“It’s just an overarching eating quality standard that our governing body, Meat and Livestock Australia, have provided to us.”

She said every farmer has their own practice but grass fed cattle requires exceptional pastures and is labour intensive. It also requires farms to be located in certain geographic areas.

“It’s very similar to eggs, the price will be reflective in the way that the animal is raised,” Ms Tarrant said.

“And it’s just about giving consumers the information that they need to make that decision. “Not everybody can afford to choose to have organic or free range eggs in the same way not everybody can afford grass fed and organic meat products. It’s not about eating more meat but eating better quality meat.”

She said this was new territory when it came to labelling meat products, but after what happened to the egg industry it was time to turn the same practices to the meat industry.

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