"Hump day" is coming for the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) grading scheme with major changes to be rolled out from next month.
Hump height will now be used as a direct predictor of MSA eating quality rather than an estimate of tropical (Bos indicus) breed content.
MSA grading measures 12 main attributes to predict the eating quality of cuts in a beef carcase.
One of those attributes is hump height (measuring the size of the rhomboideus muscle in millimetres not including fat cover).
Laura Garland, MSA producer engagement officer, in a video presentation to producers said earlier testing had shown consumers can taste the difference between Bos taurus and Bos indicus beef.
They were also able to detect increasing percentages of Bos indicus in beef.
Initially hump height was used in combination with hot standard carcase weight (HSCW) and sex to verify the declared Bos indicus content on the MSA vendor declaration.
She said more recent research using genetic markers had confirmed the relationship between hump height, sex and HSCW in determining eating quality.
New consumer sensory testing had mirrored the results from the genomic research which had revealed the direct relationship between hump height and eating quality.
The larger the hump in relationship to the weight of the carcase, the more negative impact on eating quality.
The MSA computer model will use hump height, sex and carcase weight to decide if a carcase fits within or outside the system's eating-quality tolerances.
MSA program manager, Sarah Strachan, said the beef model updates incorporated findings from five years of research.
"The research was reviewed by the independent scientists on our MSA R&D pathways committee who then recommended ways the results could be incorporated in an MSA beef model update," she said.
MSA beef taskforce member and Australian Lot Feeders Association vice president, Grant Garey, said the changes received "unanimous support".
MSA beef taskforce member and Cattle Council of Australia director, David Hill, said the changes would ensure the MSA computer model maintained a high level of accuracy, based on the latest scientific evidence.
Other major changes to MSA are being introduced from June.
The number of "cut by cook" combinations will increase from 169 to 275 to give new secondary cut options to the foodservice industry and provide increasingly popular cooking methods such as sous vide and combi-oven roasting.
A revised MSA vendor declaration form will simplify how producers record tropical breed content and will provide an option for owners who use agistment or custom feeding to receive direct carcase feedback through the myMSA feedback portal.
MSA-registered producers won't need to instantly transition to the new MSA declaration form when it becomes available.
Earlier versions of the MSA declaration would be accepted until producers run out of their current versions.