Should the South African red meat classification system be revised or maintained? A review
The objective of this review was to determine whether the current South African red meat classification system still needs to be revised and changed or maintained. It also gives insight into the most significant challenges related to meat quality evaluation in this system. Red Meat Research and Development South Africa (RMRD SA) was requested to lead an investigation into the relevance of the current South African red meat classification system. A final decision was made to maintain the system as it was in 2016. Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether consumers buy meat according to the standards set by the system, since it is mostly understood and practised efficiently by middlemen, especially abattoir operators. The general perception that this system is not quality based, but descriptive, has resulted in seeming non-transparency among some red meat industry stakeholders. Although the red meat industry is emphasizing that a quality assurance system remains too expensive to be implemented in South Africa and that the current system should be sustained, there is still room for revising it. All predictions in this review indicate that the present system cannot satisfy all the needs of the current consumer. The system seems to be inclined towards meat traders, since it is value based and may not reflect the expectations and needs of consumers in terms of meat quality. This paper therefore concluded that the South African red meat classification system still needs to be revised and more research should be done for it to become more effective.
Keywords: Assurance system, consumer needs, meat quality, meat traders, red meat industry