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  BQA Guiding Principles and History

Guiding Principles

The guiding principles of BQA are based on these core beliefs:

WE BELIEVE production practices affect consumer acceptance of beef.

WE BELIEVE the BQA Program has and must continue to empower beef producers to improve the safety and wholesomeness of beef.

WE BELIEVE these fundamental principles are the fabric of the BQA Program.

Empowering people…because producers can make a difference.
Taking responsibility…because it’s our job, not someone else’s.
Working together…because product safety and wholesomeness is everyone’s business.

History of BQA

There is consensus among most industry analysts that BQA efforts across the nation have been instrumental in recent successes in re-building beef demand. It’s also been recognized that implementation of BQA practices provides cattlemen an important tool in avoiding additional and burdensome government regulation.

The precursor of BQA that arose in the late 1970s and early 1980s was aimed at assuring that beef was free of violative chemical residues. Originally called “Beef Safety Assurance,” the emphasis at that time was on targeting real and perceived beef safety issues. Measures were successfully implemented, including educating stakeholders about proper use of pharmaceutical products and the honoring of withdrawal times.

Program architects quickly developed the same principles developed by Pillsbury for quality control in supplying food to the NASA space program. By 1985 a cadre of feedlots had been certified by USDA as Verified Production Control feedlots using Pillsbury’s novel Hazard Analysis, Critical Control Point program (HACCP) as their template.

BQA programs funded by beef checkoff money through the Cattlemen’s Beef Board were initiated in nearly every U.S. state. The concept matured in the early 1990s as the industry’s Beef Quality Task Force began to look into why and where beef was falling short of the final customer’s expectations.

The 1991 National Market Cow and Bull Beef Quality Audit, the first comprehensive audit of beef carcasses, determined that the industry lost a total of nearly $70.20 per head due to quality defects for the average fed animal marketed. The majority of the loss was due to excess fat, lack of marbling, and other carcass defects – including injection site blemishes.

Since then, the reduction of injection site lesions has been among the major success stories of BQA. While the signature of BQA has been in improving the quality and consumer confidence in fed beef, attention focused also on market bulls and cows and the beef they produce.

The 1994 National Market Cow and Bull Beef Quality Audit indicated the top 10 defects found in market cows and bulls were due mainly to pre-harvest management practices. By managing market cattle properly, monitoring market animals correctly, and marketing cows and bulls appropriately, the audit said the industry could recoup about $70 per head.

Dee Griffin, DVM and associate professor, Great Plains Veterinary Education Center, University of Nebraska, was among the BQA pioneers. “It’s a process of figuring out what could go wrong, planning to avoid it – then validating and documenting what you have done,” Griffin says. “BQA is just part of good business.”

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