Bindaree Beef, one of the largest beef processors in Australia, is hoping to stir up a public dialogue on beef labelling in a bid to reverse the downward trend in consumption.

Bindaree has taken out high-profile advertisements in Rural Press papers demanding that a national grading system be established. The advertisements also claimed that 30-40% of beef is purchased from old cows, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Bindaree spokesman Kerry Brown accused the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) of dragging its heels unnecessarily over making recommendations for beef labelling to the Federal agriculture minister.

Meanwhile David Crombie, chairman of Meat and Livestock Australia, said the introduction of a national grading system would be draconian and undermine the efforts already being undertaken by the industry. He urged the Federal agriculture minister to require the RMAC to report back on this issue more quickly, saying: "RMAC should stop sitting on its hands and actually do something. Then it might be able to justify its existence."

RMAC says its recommendations on beef labelling should be with the minister by the middle of March.