What’s Your Beef – Prime, Choice or Select?

USDA-graded beef sold at the retail level is Prime, Choice, and Select. Lower grades (Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner) are mainly ground or used in processed meat products. USDA Prime has abundant marbling (flecks of fat within the lean) which enhances both flavor and juiciness.

Article-Beef quality grades explained

What Are The Usda Grades Of Beef?

It may be due to the quality grade the owner chose to purchase that a beef steak at a fast food restaurant tastes different from one at a high-end restaurant.

Higher-quality grades of beef are more valuable on the market. Consumers don’t always understand the differences, but they are not the only ones. According to Jason Morris, beef producers sometimes confuse the grades of quality and yield, which results in unrealized gains.

The terms “quality grade” and “yield grade,” according to Morris, a University of Missouri Extension ag business specialist, are frequently used to describe cattle when, in reality, they distinguish the two carcass traits.

He says in a recent AgConnection newsletter that “beef producers, and those thinking of entering value-added beef enterprises, need to recognize the difference and how each is utilized in the cattle industry.” Knowing how to apply quality and yield grades may boost profitability. ”.

Know your quality grade

Regarding quality grade, the beef’s eating experience is everything. The amount of marbling or intramuscular fat in the beef and the maturity or estimated age of the animal at slaughter, according to USDA, are the two main factors used to determine quality grades.

Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner are the eight total quality grades. They have been used by the beef industry since 1927.

The USDA considers the first three quality grades, Prime, Choice, and Select, to be food-grade labels because they are the most widely recognized by consumers.

For both beef producers and consumers, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service provides the following definitions of all eight grades.

Prime. Prime beef is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It is frequently offered for sale in restaurants and hotels and has a lot of marbling.

Choice. High-quality Choice beef has less marbling than Prime beef.

Select. Select beef is generally leaner than higher grades and has a very consistent quality. Although it is fairly tender, it might not have as much juiciness and flavor as higher grades because it has less marbling.

Standard and Commercial. These beef grades are frequently offered for sale as ungraded or store-brand meat.

Utility, Cutter and Canner. Rarely, if ever, are these beef grades offered for sale at retail. Instead, they are utilized to produce processed goods like canned soup or frozen meals as well as ground beef.

Determine beef yield grade

According to Morris, “individual animal value is established through yield grades, and this has an impact on profitability.” “Producers can market their cattle using these USDA yield grades.” ”.

An estimate of the percentage retail yield of the four prime cuts of beef—chuck, rib, loin, and round—is known as yield grade. Morris explains how the traits listed below are used to establish yield grade:

Backfat thickness (BF). When determining carcass yield, back fat carries the most influence. Based on the total fat of the carcass, a USDA grader will calculate the total thickness of fat.

Rib-eye area (REA). Between the 12th and 13th ribs, there is muscle that makes up the rib-eye region. This area, which is given in square inches, typically ranges in size from 11 to 15 square inches.

Kidney, pelvic and heart fat (KPH). The amount of internal fat surrounding the kidneys, pelvis, and heart is estimated. Typically, most carcasses host anywhere from 1. 5% to 4%.

Hot carcass weight (HCW). Uncooled carcasses without the head, hide, or any internal organs make up the hot carcass weight. In most fed cattle, this dressing percentage will be about 63% of the live cattle weight

Following evaluation, the yield grade is established and assigned a USDA yield grade between 1 and 5. The most beef is available with a yield grade of 1, and the least with a yield grade of 5.

According to Morris’ conclusion, “producers who understand yield and quality grades are better able to make decisions about genetics, nutrition, health, and production practices, as well as product marketing.”

University of Missouri Extension contributed to this article. Related

What’s Your Beef


What are the 8 USDA quality grades of beef?

Prime, choice, select, standard, commercial, utility, cutter, and canner are the eight beef grades.

Which is better USDA prime or choice?

Excellent for dry-heat cooking methods like broiling, roasting, or grilling are prime roasts and steaks. High-quality Choice beef has less marbling than Prime. The loin and rib will produce tender, juicy, and flavorful roasts and steaks that are suitable for dry-heat cooking.

What is the best USDA beef grade?

High-end steakhouses and restaurants typically sell USDA Prime steak due to its extreme tenderness, juiciness, and flavor that is brought on by the enormous amount of intramuscular fat. Simply put, USDA Prime beef is of the highest quality available in the USA and is ideal for grilling over high heat.

What are the USDA meat grades from best to worst?

Prime, choice, select, standard, commercial, utility, cutter, and canner are the eight USDA beef grades. With prime beef being the best and canner being the worst

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