USDA Seeking Feedback on the Instrument Enhanced Grading Program for Beef Grading

January 14, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking comments on procedures for the Instrument Enhanced Grading (IEG) program for beef carcass grading. These procedures outline requirements for establishments that wish to use plant personnel to apply the U.S. Standards for Carcass Beef when approved instrument technology is used in conjunction with official USDA meat grading service. Since this program was launched in 2012, there has been limited industry adoption. AMS is interested in understanding whether changes to the program would make the IEG more workable for plants using grading services.

Based on discussions with industry members, AMS understands that the requirements for plant employee certification may be one such barrier. Specifically, Section 5.5 of Quality Assessment Division (QAD) Procedure 511 may be updated to reduce the frequency for certified plant employees to undergo a written exam for recertification, so long as they maintain acceptable ongoing performance. Under current requirements, certified plant employees undergo a formal recertification, including a written exam and practical, every two years.

The draft revision to Procedure 511 (pdf) sets forth the requirements for plant employees to become certified initially and recertified on an ongoing basis. The proposed revision to Section 5.5 (pages 5-6) is noted in bracketed bold text.

Comments on the proposed revision to the IEG program should be submitted to Chad Nelson, National Meat Supervisor, Standardization Branch, Livestock and Poultry Program, at, or by phone at (402) 281-8704 by February 28, 2020.

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