The Grading Scale
All beef is inspected for wholesomeness by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)* and is graded for quality and consistency. You’ve heard of Prime, Choice, and Select grades – and Prime tops the grading scale. Marbling plays a big role in quality grades.
Marbling – the little white flecks in beef – is key to flavor. The higher the amount of marbling, the higher the quality of beef. The Certified Angus Beef ® brand is incredibly flavorful, tender, and juicy because of the high amounts of marbling in every cut.
Q: How is beef graded?
A: Independent USDA graders inspect cattle and label them according to the grading scale: Prime, Choice, Select, and several low-quality grades.
Q: How is beef selected for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand?
A: The same independent USDA graders inspect black-hided cattle (typical of the Angus breed) and give it a grade. All beef considered for the brand must be the best Choice, or Prime, beef – truly the top of the scale. This top-quality Angus beef is then evaluated again, using the brand’s set of 10 science-based specifications for marbling, size, and uniformity. If it’s good enough to make the cut, then it earns the distinctive Certified Angus Beef ® brand label.
Q: What makes Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime the ultimate beef?
A: Quality, plain and simple. Only truly elite beef surpasses the USDA’s stringent Prime standards AND meets all 10 of the brand’s quality specifications. Less than 1.5% of beef achieves the high standards of Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime. And marbling is key to its incredible flavor and tenderness.
Marbling and maturity
1. Modest or higher marbling – for the taste that ensures customer satisfaction
2. Medium or fine marbling texture – the white flecks of flavor in the beef that ensures consistent flavor and juiciness in every bite
3. Only the youngest classification of product qualifies as maturity – for superior color, texture, and tenderness
The next three specifications ensure a uniform, consistent steak size:
4. 10- to 16-square-inch ribeye area
5. Less than 1,000-pound hot carcass weight
6. Less than 1-inch fat thickness
And finally, four specifications further ensure the quality appearance, and tenderness of the brand:
7. Superior muscling (restricts influence of dairy cattle)
8. Practically free of capillary ruptures (ensures the most visually appealing steak)
9. No dark cutters (ensures the most visually appealing steak)
10. No neck hump exceeding 2 inches (safeguards against cattle with more variability in tenderness)