Why We Certify Our Yak Meat
The USDA triangle inspection stamp and a label that says “yak”, you’d be surprised how little that might actually mean. The USDA allows yaks to participate in Voluntary Federal inspection.
Voluntary Federal inspection for animals not covered under mandatory inspection (i.e., buffalo, rabbit, reindeer, elk, deer, antelope) is handled under the Agricultural Marketing Act. This Act gives the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to take whatever steps are necessary to make the product marketable. The FSIS inspector must have knowledge about that particular species and the carcass must fit available equipment in the plant. Businesses that request voluntary inspection must pay an hourly fee for the service whereas mandatory inspection is funded by tax dollars.
For voluntary inspection, the mark of inspection (as referenced in 9 CFR 352.7-Marking Inspected Products)illustrates the mark to be the shape of a triangle for exotic species.
This triangle stamp means that the meat product was inspected by USDA, but USDA triangle stamp guidelines make it perfectly legal to cross yaks with cattle and sell meat from the hybrid offspring labelled as “yak”!
USYAKS Meat Certification
USYAKS believes that meat from hybrids is inferior to meat from full-blooded yaks. In 2020 the Board of Directors authorized the USYAKS Certified Yak Meat program. If you’d like to know that the meat you buy is from a yak, and not from a hybrid, look for this medallion:
Meat packaged with this logo has come from yaks that have undergone genetic screening to ensure that the meat in the package comes from a yak and not a hybrid.
To earn this label a yak breeder must submit a DNA sample for each participating yak to the registrar of USYAKS. The registrar submits the DNA sample to Neogen Genomics where the DNA is screened for cattle gene introgression. Yaks participating in the Certification program are required to pass the screening at exactly the same high standard as is used by the Association for Full-Blood Registered yaks.