Work has finally begun in NI to upgrade the Video Imaging Analysis (VIA) equipment currently used to grade beef carcases in NI.

The existing equipment, installed across the seven largest abattoirs in NI back in 2011, relies on old technology, including an analogue camera to photograph carcases.

However, with replacement parts no longer in stock, the German company behind the grading machines, E+V Technology, has already upgraded the system in Republic of Ireland factories with new digital cameras and new lighting systems, ahead of a similar work in NI.

First off is the Dunbia factory in Dungannon, where some amendments are being made on the slaughter line to accommodate the upgraded machine.

It is understood that officials from DAERA will also take the lead in undertaking a trial of the upgraded machine to ensure it is working to the standard set out in legislation for both carcase conformation and fat class. Any amendments made to the calculations used to predict each grade will apply to all factories that have upgraded VIA machines installed across the UK.

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