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New Committee Will Produce Standards for Livestock Valuation

Various equipment is used in stockyards and packing plants to determine the cash value of livestock. Problems arise when varying devices from simple probes to complex scanners produce fluctuating values. Measurement, accuracy, and fairness become suspect, and old standards don’t cover new technology. This year, U.S. federal and state agencies initiated new standards for uniformity in livestock valuation.

On April 3, members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, various State Departments of Weights and Measures, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Office of Weights and Measures met at ASTM in West Conshohocken, Pa. Livestock producers, meat packers, equipment manufacturers, trade groups, academia, and additional government agencies attended. Together they agreed to develop standards for beef, pork, and poultry as ASTM Committee F10 on Livestock, Meat, and Poultry Evaluation Systems.

The term “livestock” applies to both live animals and carcasses. “Livestock evaluation systems” describe equipment and methods that determine cash value.

Problems arise when chosen evaluation practices produce irregular pricing. A meat packer can judge carcass value with a variety of devices. They can opt to measure percent lean, pH, meat color, palatability, water content, or other factors.

The committee’s standards will cover:

• Equipment design resolution, units of measurement, and operator error;
• Device performance repeatability (stability), audit, examination, and tolerances;
• User requirements such as operation, installation, maintenance, training, and calibration; and
• Predictive accuracy including repeatability, audit, and examination.

Completed standards will be available for voluntary use and could become mandatory. USDA members on the committee plan to propose the standards for regulation through the U.S. Packers and Stockyards Act.

Participating in the development of device-accuracy standards are members of the National Conference on Weights and Measures who maintain NIST Handbook 44 on Weights and Measures—the law governing measurement devices that is adopted with modifications by each state.

Individuals are welcomed to participate on the committee. For further information, contact Drew Azzara, assistant vice president, ASTM Technical Committee Operations (phone: 610/ 832-9676).

Look for updates on Committee F10 activities in future issues of Standardization News. //

Copyright 2001, ASTM