USDA’s Grading System
After mandatory inspections from Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to ensure a meat’s safety for consumption, a producer or processor can pay a fee to have their beef graded by the USDA. The USDA then assigns quality grades. These determine the tenderness, juiciness, flavor, and yield grades. Yield grade simply means the amount of usable meat.
What is the Best Grade of Meat?
The best grade of meat defined by the USDA is prime. Only 2% of all meat graded by the USDA makes it to this superior category. Prime has the highest amount of marbling. Marbling is a positive attribute that shows a higher level of flavor will be present in the cut of meat. It refers to the white flecks of intramuscular fat.
What Are the USDA Grades of Beef?
The USDA defines eight quality grades for beef:
Prime meat has the highest level of marbling over other quality grades. This is the most desirable of the quality grades for beef. You’ll see prime meats served on upscale steakhouse menus.
Choice meat makes up about 45% of the meats graded by the USDA. Choice meat is characterized by present but fewer traces of marbling. It is suited for broiling, roasting, braising, simmering, and grilling. It is still good quality but is not the superior quality of prime meat.
Select meat is good for grilling, marinating, and braising. But due to its lack of marbling, it may lack the tenderness present in higher grades of meat.
Standard and commercial meat is still okay for consumption but has very little marbling. Cuts of standard and commercial meat can be found as store-branded meat or are sold without a grade.
Utility, cutter, and canner meat are rarely sold at the retail level. Instead, this grade of meat is used in processed foods and for ground meat.
Is USDA Prime Beef Grass-Fed?
USDA prime beef is sometimes grass-fed, but not always. You’ll notice that most grass-fed beef is not graded by the USDA. This is because, to avoid a lower rating, many producers will skip the optional USDA grading process. Some grass-fed beef has a harder time earning a ‘prime’ rating due to the lower amount of marbling. However, this doesn’t mean all prime beef is absent of the necessary marbling to produce the signature flavor of prime meat.
Why Prime Grade Beef?
While all of the USDA grades are safe for consumption, nothing comes close to the quality, tenderness, and juiciness of Prime Grade Beef. It is most often produced from young, well-fed cattle and is characterized by its abundant marbling and incredible flavor and tenderness, making it the most sought-after and delectable grade of meat on the market.
Christner’s Prime Steak
We care so much about the quality of our steak, we put it in our name. It’s our promise to always serve our guests the highest quality USDA Prime steak available in order to provide the best possible dining experience. Call or book online today to make your reservations.