Definition: Grades of Beef

The USDA grade beef at eight  quality grades. The grades are based on two main criteria: the degree of marbling in the beef, and the maturity. US Prime beef is sold to hotels and upscale restaurants. Only 2% of graded beef is Prime.

  • U.S. Prime – Highest in quality and intramuscular fat, limited supply.
  • U.S. Choice – High quality, widely available in food service industry and retail markets.
  • U.S. Select – lowest grade commonly sold at retail, acceptable quality but less juicy and tender due to leanness.
  • U.S. Standard – Lower quality yet economical, lacking marbling.
  • U.S. Commercial – Low quality, lacking tenderness, produced from older animals.
  • U.S. Utility
  • U.S. Cutter
  • U.S. Canner
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