USMEF raises concerns about Mexico’s beef grading plan

Meatingplace, By Tom Johnston on 12/28/2017

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has submitted comments to the Mexican government expressing its concerns about that country’s proposed beef grading standards.

Mexico’s proposed system closely resembles that of the USDA and borrows the grade names “Prime,” “Choice,” “Select” and “Standard,” and its government, according to USMEF, is indicating that these names should be used interchangeably.

In its comments, USMEF contends that doing so would create confusion in the marketplace and diminish the value that the U.S. beef industry derives from the USDA grading system.

The group notes that while Mexico’s proposed system is similar to the U.S. version, there are significant differences — including differences in marbling scores and in the procedures used to determine carcass grades — that make interchangeable use of English and Spanish grade names problematic.

“[B]eef carrying any of the Mexican grades will not be comparable to beef that has been given the parallel USDA grade,” USMEF said. “This will pose a problem in the marketplace because today these grade names are uniquely associated with the USDA grading standards, are well-known in Mexico and around the world, and have been in use for many years. Moreover, as noted above, these names are backed up by the USDA grading system, which ensures uniformity and consistency for beef graded throughout the United States.”

That Mexico appears to be making its grading system mandatory also raises questions about how, and whether, companies in Mexico that handle beef imported from the United States can comply, USMEF noted. Although the majority of beef produced in the United States is graded under the USDA program, that program is administered on a strictly voluntary basis.

USMEF is calling on Mexico to consider making the program voluntary and removing the English grade names from the program.