What is Beef Quality Assurance and why should I consider certification

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a term used in beef cattle production, however, some producers may not know what it means, and how it needs to be a part of management for the beef herd.

According to Dr. Dee Griffin, DVM, and Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska’s Great Plains Veterinary Education Center, and BQA Pioneer Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) can be defined as follows: “It’s a process of figuring out what could go wrong, planning to avoid it – then validating and documenting what you have done. BQA is just part of good business.” The keyword in the title is “Quality,” and knowing what that stands for benefits both beef producers, and consumers. Quality means producing and providing a beef product that is wholesome and safe, but it also means providing a product that is going to deliver a desirable eating experience. Quality beef consistently satisfies customer expectations for eating, and preparation characteristics such as: tenderness, flavor, juiciness, color, packaging, price, and ease of preparation.

A beef producer should consider certification because it sends a message to the consumers that they are willing to do everything in their management to assure that they are producing a quality product. That message is backed by the National BQA guidelines which are based on recommended national guidelines and scientific research to meet the demands of today’s consumer. BQA focuses on the following management areas:

  • Care and Husbandry Practices
  • Feedstuffs
  • Feed Additives and Medications
  • Processing, Treatment, and Record Keeping
  • Injectable Animal Health Products 

The National Beef Quality Audit provides us with information as to how producers are performing within these management areas. The latest finding showed that to cattle producers, quality equals raising healthy cattle and calves, and providing safe and wholesome beef. So this gets us back to the question of why should a beef producer consider certification, and the answer to that question is this. The following is a checklist of reasons that a beef producers could use as reasons for considering BQA Certification:

  • Records allow for better business decisions
  • Cattle managed under BQA guidelines are less likely to contain:
    • illegal drug residues
    • injection site tissue damage, or foreign material such as a broken needle
  • increased consumer confidence in meat and milk quality which is vital to beef and dairy producers
  • BQA demonstrates to consumers that the cattle industry is taking proactive steps to raise beef responsibly.
  • We are in the business of producing safe food!

As a beef producer it is important to send a product to the consumer that is going to meet and hopefully exceed their expectations. BQA is one very important tool that can help producers accomplish that goal each and every time. It is also important from a record keeping standpoint, as a producer records treatments, or feed changes, they can go back and evaluate the steps and processes to see if they are working. Without that written record, they would not have a very accurate method of evaluating their production practices. For more information on BQA, you can visit the website, and contact one of the Michigan State University Extension  Beef Educators in your area. 

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