What is a cut of meat?

A cut of meat is a particular piece taken from a section of the carcase. For example, the pork carcase is broken into hind leg, middle or loin and foreleg or shoulder sections. The pork cut called ‘shoulder regular’ is cut from the shoulder section.

Photo of Cuts of Meat

What is a meat cut specification?

A specification tells you what the customer does and does not want. A cut of meat may in itself be a specification or extra work may be required.

For example, the regular shoulder of pork may be fine as it is or the customer may require it to be boneless, in a certain weight range and fat depth, with skin on or skin off.

Specifications may also outline the removal of defects such as bone chips, blood clots and may include packaging requirements, e.g. individual wrapping, carton weights or types of packaging.

In the case of offal, specifications may demand the trimming of cartilage tissue, tongue roots, fat, etc.

For more information on specifications, refer to the training materials for AMPCOR203 Apply quality assurance practices.

How are the various cuts and specifications identified?

Training, using reference manuals and picture charts will help you identify the cuts of meat.

The AUS-MEAT Handbook Australian of Meat is one very useful resource which you can use. You also need to communicate with your supervisor and work mates to ensure the product you sort and package matches the description on the carton.

What are the potential risks of packing cuts of meat that do not conform to specification?

If packaged meat does not match the description on the carton, you risk:

  • the product being rejected and returned
  • costly re‑work or even condemnation of the product
  • yield loss from excessive knife cutting needed to correct defects such as bone chips and contamination
  • losing your customers.

How are cuts selected and sorted before packing?

Selecting and sorting meat cuts is an essential part of the quality control in plants to ensure that product meets specifications and the customer’s requirements.

When sorting and selecting meat cuts for packing, packers have to take a wide range of variables into account which may include:

  • fat cover
  • length of the cut
  • size of the cut
  • weight of meat cuts
  • colour of meat
  • fat colour
  • bruising
  • contamination
  • cutting lines
  • length of frenching
  • correct muscle to fat ratio in each carton
  • inadequate trimming.

It is essential that you understand the specification for each order. In this way, you will select and sort product that meets the customer’s requirements.

What is AUS-MEAT Language?

The AUS-MEAT Language is a common Language that describes meat products and ensures that customers get what they want and get it every time.

The AUS-MEAT Language objective descriptions are for use by the producer on the land, abattoir enterprises, boning rooms, wholesalers and food service organisations. The Language has been adopted throughout the Australian Meat Processing and provides customers with an accurate way of ordering meat products.

To assist the Australian Meat Processing in producing consistent, accurately described meat products to meet market requirements, AUS-MEAT has established accreditation standards for abattoirs, boning rooms and wholesalers. Purchasing from these accredited suppliers ensures effective quality assurance procedures every step of the process from, handling, storage, processing and packaging through to labelling and description of meat products.

To suppliers: Achieving consistency of quality is essential to survival and business growth. An establishment wishing to become AUS-MEAT accredited is required to develop and implement monitoring procedures which ensure that the AUS-MEAT Language is accurately used and that product conforms to specified requirements.

To customers: Assurance that a customer order is produced by trained staff and monitored throughout production by AUS-MEAT accredited personnel. In addition to this, the supplier’s quality system is independently audited by AUS -MEAT.

To industry: The meat and livestock industry by embracing the principal of quality management will identify and reduce waste and derive measurable benefits from continuous quality management. (Source: AUS-MEAT website http://www.ausmeat.com.au )