USDA Certified Beef
USDA Certified Beef is the most commonly known form of beef grading. Used widely, the United States Department of Agriculture is one of the most recognizable authorities on food products in the United States . All meat sold retail in the United States is inspected for wholesomeness, but not all meat is graded. The USDA Quality Grading Scale was devised to ensure quality and uniformity in the beef products in the US . Since its inception, it has been the standard by which beef products are graded.
There are 8 major categories of beef grading, highest being Prime Beef and Canned beef being lowest on the scale of 1-8. A quality grade helps the consumer know how palatable the meat will be. By palatable we mean tender, juicy and flavorful. The higher the meat ranks on the quality scale, the better it will taste. Typically, only the top three grades of beef are sold directly to consumers: Prime, Choice, and Select.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture:
"USDA Prime Grade Beef is the ultimate in tenderness, juiciness and flavor. It has abundant marbling, flecks of fat within the lean, which enhances both flavor and juiciness."
"USDA Choice Grade Beef has less marbling than Prime, but is of very high quality."
"USDA Select Grade Beef is very uniform in quality and somewhat leaner than the higher grades."