Grades of Meat

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has established grade standards for meat and other products to help the consumers know what they are buying. There are only three grades of meat; Prime, Choice and Select designated for consumer purchase. Other grades are sold to canners and meat processors.

The grading system describes quality, and predicts how tender, juicy and flavorful the meat should be. The grade of meat is the same for every section of the animal. For example, if a steer is determined to be prime, all cuts of meat from the animal will be prime.


Grades Of Meat and USDA Yields

Many packers use brand names to reflect the varying quality levels of their products, instead of using USDA grade stamps. It is important to do business with a butcher you trust, where you can expect honest service.


Prime (Best) The highest grade of beef and lamb. It has the best flavor and texture. Prime meat is marked with a purple shield-type roller stamp. Prime sells at premium prices, because it is produced in smaller quantities than other grades.

Prime meat is generally not found in the supermarkets. It is primarily sold to top restaurants, hotels and top butchers.

Dorfler’s Meat Market Carries USDA Prime Cuts!

Choice (better) – The next grade after prime is Choice. Much of today’s supermarket meat is USDA Choice. It is the most popular grade overall and often bears a brand name.

Select (good) – Select is the lowest grade available to the consumer and makes up the rest of meat in the supermarket. It may be sold with a house brand name.

USDA Yields – The yield of usable meat from a carcass or wholesale cut can vary greatly, regardless of the grade. This variation is caused, primarily, by differences in the amount of fat on the outside of the carcass. USDA has grades to measure this yield. Yield Grade 1 denotes the highest ratio of lean to fat, and Yield Grade 5 the lowest yield ratio.

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