The AUS-MEAT language

If you had a VVS-1, ‘Ideal’, D, 2.5 you would know without seeing it that you had a spectacular diamond with excellent clarity, cut, colour and carat weight (the four Cs). With a standard language anyone in the world knows exactly what the diamond is like without seeing it.

AUS-MEAT language is a set of objective descriptions for meat and livestock that can be used by beef producers, abattoirs, wholesalers, retailers and the food service industry. It is a common language that enables all sectors of the industry to communicate their requirements to each other clearly and concisely.

AUS-MEAT stands for the Authority for the Uniform Specification of Meat and Livestock.

AUS-MEAT slaughter floor language

The slaughter floor and chiller assessment language provides valuable feedback to producers on how well the carcase has met market specifications.

Characteristic How it is measured What it indicates
Sex SSC – Male, entire, with secondary sex characteristics (bull)

M – Male, without secondary sex characteristics

F – Female

Affects eating quality especially bulls (SSC). Little eating quality differences between M and F.
Dentition Number of permanent erupted incisor teeth Indicator of age.

Younger cattle, more tender meat.

Fat P8 (mm) Manual measurement using ‘cut and measure’ at the P8 site. Yield indicator
HSCW (kg) (Hot standard carcase weight) Hot weight of AUS-MEAT Standard Trim Carcase. Determinant of carcase value
Bruising AUS-MEAT bruise score 1 to 9 Indicates quality and yield. Indicates handling problems.

AUS-MEAT beef quality (chiller assessment language)

Assessment of beef quality focuses on key factors that influence carcase eating quality and yield. Assessment takes place in the chiller and provides a system by which customers, both export and domestic, can order and obtain a consistent product. Marbling, meat and fat colour, and eye muscle area are all measured on the rib eye muscle on a quartered carcase.

Characteristic How it is measured What it indicates
Marbling Scale of 0 (least marbling) to 6 (most marbling) Marbling is requested by some markets, e.g. Japan, hospitality.

Believed to indicate increased flavour and juiciness.

Meat colour Scale of 1a (very pale, white veal) to 7 (very dark, dark cutter) Influences consumers’ purchase decisions. Consumers generally want light red to cherry red meat. Meat colour changes with maturity and is influenced by handling and slaughter conditions.
Fat colour Colour of intermuscular fat (seam fat, not surface fat)

Scale of 0 (white) to 9 (yellow)

Consumers prefer creamy white fat. Colour of fat generally indicates feeding regime, and some breeds are more susceptible to yellow fat. Cattle on green grass tend to have yellow fat. Grain feeding over a period of time produces white fat.
Eye muscle area (EMA) ‘Surface area of the M. longissimus dorsi at the 10–13 rib site measured in square centimetres’ Consumers prefer cuts of consistent size. EMA is part of consumer specifications. Has some influence on yield. Important feedback for producers.
Rib fat thickness (mm) Depth of the sub-cutaneous fat at a point three quarters along the lateral edge of the eye muscle from the chine, at the 10–11 rib site Used by some customers in specifications. Has some influence on yield.


All producers who sell over-the-hooks or by AuctionsPlus to AUS-MEAT accredited abattoirs will get feedback, using AUS-MEAT language, including the company’s grade and value for each carcase. They also outline the specifications of relevant markets using the same language. This feedback is valuable for identifying problems and opportunities to improve production to meet specifications.

Store cattle language

The basic language used to describe store cattle includes fat score, liveweight, sex and dentition. Other descriptions that may be used include breed content, frame score, muscle score, pregnancy status, horn status, temperament, structure, colour, tail status and hide condition. A number of these factors can be used to describe the maturity type of an animal, which provides a guide to how quickly cattle will fatten.

Further information