Beef grading explained

Jan 16, 2009
by WLJ
Beef grading explained

When USDA graders stamp carcasses, they estimate the eating experience for consumers and provide report cards for producers.

They also measure cutability, or red meat yield. Most carcasses are graded, but very few qualify for the top of the USDA pyramid. Understanding beef grades is not only important to consumers’ purchase decisions, but also to the profit goals of producers.

“It’s important for diners and shoppers to be able to buy beef that’s consistently enjoyable,” says Lance Zimmerman, supply development marketing manager for Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB). “That was the idea behind the Certified Angus Beef brand when it was founded in 1978, and that exceptional eating experience is a standard the company still upholds today.”

To help producers and consumers understand how beef qualifies for the brand’s stamp of approval, CAB created a brochure explaining the grading process.

The “Beef Carcass Grading Overview” also details the four most common carcass defects—all of which prevent cattle from earning the CAB stamp—and what causes them. In addition to marbling and cutability details, the brochure presents a short history of the USDA grading system and how CAB fits into that. For free brochures, contact Marilyn Conley at mconley@certifiedangus or call 330/ 345-2333. — WLJ