The NVD has a Property Identification Code (PIC) to track down animals from the farm to the abattoir. Product integrity at all distribution points is safeguarded as follows:
- Transport to sale yard safety – livestock transport is governed by truck-care standards for animal welfare and meat integrity. In the sale yards, quality concerns are addressed via the National Saleyards Quality Assurance Program (NSQA). NLIS tags are used to capture all ensuing transactions.
- Factory – Australian processing Standards conform to international ISO 9002:1994 and Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) guidelines. Ante-mortem, post-mortem, and microbial inspection are conducted throughout. Once an animal is slaughtered, its PIC number is recorded for traceability.
- Shipping – supervision by the Department of Agriculture proceeds to seal of containers destined for export. The government then stores all container and seal number information. Upon inspection, opening a container before it reaches its final destination is also prohibited.
Australian beef processors have put in place innovative techniques to ensure that beef delivered to export markets is of impeccable quality. While vacuum packaging and chilling eliminate bacteria on beef products, prevention of microbial growth on vacuum containers is a continuous process achieved through the following ways:
- Maintaining clean processing conditions — achieved through sanitation of the carcase and the rigorous safety and hygiene standards observed by all export-accredited processors.
- Adhering to precise temperature control throughout the delivery pipeline to suppress destructive bacteria. Chilled beef products are transported at -1.5°C to -0.5°C. Under optimal conditions, Australian beef has a 120-day shelf-life.
- Effective vacuum packaging for chilled beef products to prolong shelf life without hampering meat aging which keeps beef tender and fresh.
- Controlling beef pH — meat with pH higher than 6.0 goes bad quicker than that of lower pH. Australian beef packaging guidelines direct exclusion of carcases with meat pH greater than 6.