Published October 15, 2012
Is Prime rib made from Prime beef? What is higher quality meat, Choice or Select? And how does Angus beef rank? Allow us to settle any beefs you may have over different grades of beef.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grades beef for quality and consistency, designating the meat with eight different grades. From highest grade to lowest, they are:
Only about two percent of all beef graded by the USDA qualifies for Prime distinction. Most restaurants serve Prime or Choice beef.
Another grading program is Certified Angus Beef, a designation awarded by Wooster, Ohio-based Certified Angus Beef LLC. The mark applies to approximately eight per cent of all USDA-graded beef that derives from Angus stock and meets certain quality criteria. A cow that provides Angus certified meat must have Angus parentage and a coat that is at least 51 percent black.
Warning: Do not confuse Prime beef with prime rib — the prime rib refers to the location from where the meat is cut, not the graded quality of the beef. The grades refer primarily to the amount of fat marbling in the muscle; Prime beef must contain no less than eight per cent intramuscular fat. And you wondered why it tastes so good!
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