Dalley Street Butchery owner Brett Restall in his cool room preparing some quality yearling cuts for sale to his customers in Lismore.
Dalley Street Butchery owner Brett Restall in his cool room preparing some quality yearling cuts for sale to his customers in Lismore. Jacklyn Wagner

Meat labelling promises tender cut

IF YOU like your steak tender, your chances of being sure to get a juicy cut are on the rise.

The NSW Government has promised new labelling laws will make buying the right beef for a barbecue or a casserole easier for consumers.

The laws, which have been developed in consultation with the industry, will require butchers and processors to state the age of the cow the meat comes from on the label.

“What this means for shoppers is that there will be clear description of beef categories,” NSW Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan said.

“Age can have an impact on the tenderness and flavour of the meat. Put simply, younger best quality beef commands a premium price, whereas an older cow provides a cheaper cut.”

Mr Whan said that for a long time the industry had self-regulated the use of supplementary labelling descriptions with terms such as grain fed/grass fed, organic, geographic origin, Halal/Kosher, aged/tenderised/marbled.

With the start of the new beef labelling requirements, from August 31 these claims will have to be accurate and substantiated.

Some descriptions, including A-grade, export quality, grain assisted and milk fed will be also disallowed.

Brett Restall, of Dalley Street Butchery in Lismore, said he believed the new labelling would have the most impact on supermarkets and large outlets who sold a wide variety of beef.

“I sell the best I can get and that is yearling,” he said. “If you’re going for tenderness, that’s what you have to sell.”

Mr Restall said all meat displayed on his counter had yearling written on it.

“But we do a fair few pre-packs as well, so labelling all those is going to be a bit of a time-consuming job.”

So how do you know if the meat you are buying is going to be tough as old boots?

Mr Whan said retailers or supermarkets selling beef from older cows must label it ‘economy’.

“This is a win for producers, who were previously disadvantaged by non-enforceable voluntary labelling of beef products, and a win for consumers, who can now easily understand what they’re buying,” he said.

Butchers will be off the hook for the first six months after the laws are introduced, with a moratorium on penalties.

During that time the NSW Food Authority will work with businesses to ensure they are complying with the new system.

NSW will become the first state to provide enforceable ‘truth in labelling’ requirements on beef intended for sale.



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