Grades of Beef

January 4th, 2012  |  Published in Feature, Learn  |  2 Comments

In the US there are eight grades of beef labeled by the FDA. Only three of them should ever near your plate. Let’s start from the bottom up with those three.

  • Select – Select is the lowest grade usually sold at retail. It has the least amount of marbling is less juicy and tender than Choice.
  • Choice – Choice is high quality. A good daily beef (not that you should). It’s what you’ll see in most restaurants. If they’re serving Prime they’ll  probably mention it on the menu.
  • Prime – This is the top dog – sorry bad choice of words. Top steer. Anyway, it has the most marbling it’s the most tender. It’s the best of the best and countless other cliches I can’t remember. This is the cut you get for date night because anything else is uncivilized. And you don’t want to be seen as slack jawed mouth breather do you?

Familiarize yourself with the logos below.

And any more questions can be answered at the USDA site.

USDA stamps


Chad Thompson

I’ve been alive for roughly 37 years now and have been shooting things for about 30 of them. When I was about 5 years old I had a slingshot. That worked out about as well as you can imagine. I was happily targeting cans when a small bird landed near where I was aiming. Not shooting with particularly rounded rocks proved the end of the bird as the projectile veered tragically off course. These days I have honed my accuracy and changed my weapon. Chad Thompson is a food photographer in San Diego, California.

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  • Chad- I'm scared to know the deets about the other 5 grades, but secretly quite curiuos.

    • It's just one of those things you need to let go. It's like seeing sausage being made. You just don't need that info.