Focus on quantity over quality shows farmers are being exploited by QAS
Published 02/11/2010 | 05:00
There is an old saying which says "never mind the quality -- feel the width". Apparently, it traces its origins back to cut-price tailors selling bulky, but inferior, clothing to the poor of London's back streets.
I feel that, in this day and age, advice encouraging Irish farmers to pursue quantity rather than quality should also be relegated to the history books.
Quantity is an easy concept to understand, but what exactly do we mean when we speak about quality? As far as beef production is concerned, it appears it has many different meanings.
First we have Bord Bia's Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS), which, by and large, adopts a constructive use of the word.
The QAS scheme provides positive assurance to consumers as to the standards under which Irish beef has been produced. In other words, it guarantees that proper production and food safety principles have been adhered to on the farm where the beef was produced.
Then there's the Quality Payment System (QPS). Aside from the fat issue, this is really all about quantity rather than quality.
It is designed to reward producers of beef-breed animals, which return a greater percentage of saleable meat than a comparable non-beef breed carcass. It ensures that a farmer gets fully paid for all the meat which his animals produce but it has little to do with the eating quality of beef.
There is only one real test of beef quality and that is when the consumer sits down to eat his/her beef dish. A well-finished, properly hung and nicely marbled carcass is vitally important.