Quality Standard Beef


Qualifying criteria for QSM beefIn order to carry the Quality Standard Mark all beef and lamb must be produced and processed through a fully assured and independently audited supply chain. Details of which can be found in our Scheme Operating Guide. Additionally the following requirements which directly affect eating quality are applied.


The Quality Standard Mark Scheme for beef limits the age and status of animals allowed into the scheme, and places additional requirements on the processing of beef from those animals above a specified age. These requirements reflect current scientific knowledge; particularly the role that age at slaughter plays in beef eating quality.

The current standards are:

  • Females under the age of 36 months are acceptable. They must not have been used for breeding or be in calf, they must not be pregnant.
  • Steers under the age of 36 months are acceptable.
  • Carcases must have a fat class of between 2–4H and have a conformation of E–O+.
  • For qualifying livestock 30 months or under: Maturation of 7 days is required on primals used for frying, roasting and grilling (from slaughter to the final consumer).
  • For qualifying livestock aged between 30–36 months: Maturation of 14 days is required on primals used for frying, roasting and grilling (from slaughter to the final consumer). Alternatively, one of the post-slaughter processes to enhance tenderness as outlined in ‘AHDB Beef and Lamb Guidance to Meat Quality’ can be used, ie, Hip bone suspension or electrical stimulation plus the standard 7 day maturation as outlined for under 30 months cattle.
  • Bulls must be no older than 16 months at slaughter. Primals used for frying, roasting and grilling must be subject to a minimum 14 days maturation (from slaughter to the final consumer).
  • Meat from young cattle is subject to specific labelling requirements based on age at slaughter. Meat from such animals must be labelled as either veal or beef depending on age. Therefore, the Quality Standard Mark veal logo will apply to meat from animals under 8 months of age and the Quality Standard Mark beef logo for animals over 8 months at slaughter.

These requirements will clearly ensure improved and more consistent eating quality and exclude beef which is likely to be of a more variable eating quality.

Quality Standard Mince

  • All livestock must be from farms operating in compliance with a farm assurance scheme, and must be transported, slaughtered and processed in compliance with a quality assurance scheme. Each such assurance scheme must have been approved by AHDB Beef and Lamb.
  • Beef mince must contain a maximum of 20% fat (as measured by chemical analysis using British Standard methods), approximately equivalent to beef having overall 85% visual lean prior to mincing (final mix stage).
  • Cattle of any age or sex are acceptable.
  • Beef mince must be 100% beef with no added water, additives, fillers or other ingredients.

Quality Standard Burgers

  • No meat other than beef may be used.
  • The beef may be obtained from cattle of any age or sex.
  • The beef used must be of a quality such that it would, if minced, satisfy the requirements of the AHDB Beef and Lamb Quality Standard for beef mince.
  • The minimum beef content of the burger is 70% (as defined by The Food Labelling Regulations 1996 as amended in 2003).
  • The manufacturer or processor must be a registered member of the AHDB Beef and Lamb QSM Scheme.
  • All beef burgers must be produced and labelled in accordance with current legislative requirements.

Read our Scheme Operating Guide.

Quality Standard Lamb

Quality Standard Lamb

Read the standards relating to lamb >>
Quality Standard Veal

Quality Standard Veal

Read the standards relating to veal >>
Locate a QSM Supplier or Member

Locate a QSM Supplier or Member

Find your nearest supplier of Quality Standard Mark beef and lamb using our new postcode search tool >>