Meet the meat: high stakes higher ed competitions

Paul Greatrix introduces some choice cuts of campus competitiveness
This article is more than 1 year old

There are plenty of inter-university competitions in UK higher education. From the huge range of sporting competitions overseen by BUCS, to local varsity rivalries and, of course, University Challenge, there are lots of ways in many different arenas for institutions to compete for dominance over their rivals.

But there is one area in US higher education which seems to have few parallels in the UK – Intercollegiate Meat Judging.

Beefing it up

The American Meat Science Association and its forerunner body have been judging meat for nearly a century:

Meat judging programs are currently the most effective tool for the recruitment and development of future meat science technologists in existence today. Meat judging is much more than just the determination of the quality and lean meat yield of a carcass or wholesale cut; the program serves as a training tool to develop young leaders in the meat and livestock industries. Judging is a competitive event for youth through collegiate age students and it has a deep-rooted history with the meat industry. Students equipped with a general knowledge in meat evaluation are able to be competitive in the judging arena, but more importantly will be the individuals that lead our industry into the future.

And there are loads of competitions involving universities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Spam, spam, spam, spam…

For example, here is a meat judging competition from last September in Minnesota, the National Barrow Show:

The contest will consist of two divisions: Graduate and Undergraduate. The contest will include both fresh and processed pork classes, questions, keep/cull, and processed meat defects. Awards will be presented at 8:00 am on Sunday, September 9 in the Crane Pavilion on the Mower County Fair Grounds prior to the start of the National Barrow Show Junior Show.

Contest Guidelines
All pork contest consisting of both fresh and processed products
Judging based on visual inspection only
Questions will be answered on 5 classes after all rotations are completed with notes
5 placing only classes
10 processed meat defects with cheat sheet provided
Keep Cull class with scenario
Each school may bring one team per division

All pretty clear I think.

Have a butcher’s at this!

This video puts a bit more flesh on the bones.


I suspect a number of our agriculture-focused universities and colleges are involved in something like this but will we ever get national meat judging competitions in the UK? Will they be allowed to join BUCS? Will it replace University Challenge?

Are you a higher education meat judger? Do let us know what is going in the UK.

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