Scots work towards developing eating quality yardstick A new long-term strategy is being drawn up by Quality Meat Scotland to ensure that Scottish meat remains at the top of the market. This involves developing the current farm assurance best practice code to include an eating quality yardstick which may involve changes to breeding, feeding and slaughtering techniques. The project is being run by Kim-Marie Heywood of QMS in association with the MLC's meat and technical specialist Mike Owen. Preliminary work on a review of the world research findings on the topic has already been completed. "We will be working closely with both processing and farming sectors to develop enhanced practices for the production of meat of all three red meat species with improved eating qualities," said Heywood. Three Scottish abattoirs ­ one for each species ­ are to be selected to take part in trials over the next few months, with results expected in about a year's time. The project will involve animals bought through auction markets as well as those consigned directly. The aim is to provide a free-flow of information across the food chain and to audit the processes at all points. The meat produced will then be subject to consumer tasting panels across Britain. "We aim to provide a specific set of tools that will enable the Scottish meat market to compete at the very top of any market," said Heywood, who has just returned from a fact-finding trip to the US. It found that meat eating quality was high on the list of American demands and thus influenced returns to primary producers. This was in contrast to the European statutory grading system that considers only carcase conformation and fat cover. {{MEAT }}