USDA Grading Facts

Did you know that the Federal Government’s organized grading of beef dates all the way back to 1923?! Although laws have changed and policies have adapted, the importance of quality meat has only become more prevalent.

About 8 out of 10 people consume fresh beef on a weekly basis just at home, with steak being the second most popular variety. With such an outstanding number of beef eaters, it’s more important than ever to focus on the quality of food you are serving on the dinner plate. Read up on the differences in the various USDA grades, and make the best decision when shopping for your steak!

It’s important to keep in mind that the grading process is completely optional – only those that submit their cattle for grading will receive the USDA shield of approval. There are 3 quality grading levels, in order from most to least desirable: USDA Prime, USDA Choice, and USDA Select. Beef quality grading is based mostly on 2 main factors: marbling and maturity of the meat.

Porterhouse Steak

USDA Prime

According to the USDA , in 2012, of all quality graded only 3.6% was prime! This superior beef is known for its abundant marbling and is most commonly found in restaurants and hotels. You can get the unmatched juiciness and flavor of this sought after steak with any of the products in our USDA Prime collection. Each of our steaks are hand trimmed by the same master butcher who supplies Stock Yards steaks to restaurants all over the country.

USDA Choice:

After USDA Prime, USDA choice is next in terms of steak desirability levels. In 2012, 65.6% of all graded meat in the United States qualified for this grading, making it the most popular and accessible quality. While these steaks will still be juicy and tender, USDA Choice steaks have far less marbling than that of USDA Prime steaks. Top of the line choice cuts for roasting and grilling will be cut from the loin and rib, while the less tender chunks are commonly used for roasting or simmering.

USDA Select:

The least desirable on the USDA grade scale, USDA Select has the far less marbling than that of the other grade scales and therefore may be less juicy and flavorful. These cuts are relatively tender and ideally should be marinated.

Further Reading:

http://www.beefusa.org/CMDocs/BeefUSA/Resources/Statistics/factsheet_beefmarketataglance.pdf
http://meat.tamu.edu/beefgrading/
http://blogs.usda.gov/2013/01/28/what%E2%80%99s-your-beef-%E2%80%93-prime-choice-or-select/

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Categories: Meat Guide

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