Cooking For Engineers Forum Index Cooking For Engineers
Analytical cooking discussed.
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Kitchen Notes: USDA Beef Quality Grades
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Cooking For Engineers Forum Index -> Comments Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not that complicated. First of all, you can forget about the letter grade. It's all grade A at the supermarket. The ratings go like this:

standard - good, healthful, lean meat
select - typically the best you can buy
choice - heart attack or obesity?
prime - heart attack AND obesity.

Angus - like choice or prime, but for people who take pride in buying expensive stuff. Have to keep up with the neighbors you know...

Kobe - like Angus, but worse.
Back to top

PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:56 am    Post subject: angus/organics/grading beef Reply with quote

Smile I first tried Angus beef{BREED of bovine/cow}. a few years back. i was impressed with the tenderness of black angus over any other grade of beef if not equal to prime and as good or better than select. I must admit that when i heard of organic beef of any sort my brain shorted out .My mind set was that vegtables could be organic ,but how could beef and chickens and piggies possibly be organic!? In a nutshell its the food the beasts are fed. meaning the feed hasnt been grown on a farm that uses pesticides. also the moo moo's havent been shot up with growth hormones neighther. other items come into play as well. such as fre range ,meaning instead of the old cow standing all day shoved into a pen next to other cows in the same barn ,it gets ta mingle and is encouraged to do so . an organically raised cow is generally fed organic grass from the pasture it's walking around on{again grass not grown with inorganic fertilizer or weed killers/pestisides.}and within the last days of its unslaughterd life is fattend up with lots of sweet tasty organic corn feed. Organic beef is something i dont think ive yet to eat{regular or angus}. but logically itz got to taste better .ive read where the pestisides from the meal end up in the cow/chicken/pork// fat deposits in attempt from the animal to get rid of the poison. and golly aint that what rounds out a nice piece o meat.{ not pesticides i mean} so if u can find it or get it online{u can}some day git you some organic beef.{or?} ill be tryin some angus first if possible! T he other issue is grade. Not to sound flippant or arrogant....Angus doesnt need a grade ,,, its true! some growers online ive read dont grade thier angus cause its not needed. it just aint . It's all good and better than most of us are used to. yes u will pay more for it but it aint that much more . Now about KOBE about $100.oo a pound so forget it !!!!!! but u can slice it UNCOOKED with a butter knife. When i git to Heaven.............. love bob c Smile
Back to top

PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2006 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hate to tell all of you, but Certified Angus Beef has nothing to do with Angus cattle. It is a great marketing ploy, but the animals are not judged on the hoof. CAB is just a rating that they decided they would apply to the top 20% of choice beef. Therefore, prime is actually better. BTW fat = flavor so for you posting the heart attack stuff why don't you try to only post on something that you are actually educated at. I grew up on a farm, showed and judged cattle, have cut in a friends packing house, and am about 2 semesters away from being an engineer. Take care.
Back to top

PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2006 12:33 am    Post subject: Correction Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Hate to tell all of you, but Certified Angus Beef has nothing to do with Angus cattle. It is a great marketing ploy, but the animals are not judged on the hoof. CAB is just a rating that they decided they would apply to the top 20% of choice beef. Therefore, prime is actually better. BTW fat = flavor so for you posting the heart attack stuff why don't you try to only post on something that you are actually educated at. I grew up on a farm, showed and judged cattle, have cut in a friends packing house, and am about 2 semesters away from being an engineer. Take care.

I hate to tell you, but cattle that produce CAB ARE graded on the hoof. The USDA requirements for all branded beef programs are here:

Click on Certified Angus Beef and then the Schedule GLA link and you'll find this:

"Cattle eligible for certification in Angus influence beef programs based on phenotype (appearance) must be predominately (51 percent) solid black. Blue roan, gray, etc., are not considered to be black or a percentage of black. Such variations can qualify only when it occupies 49 percent, or less, of the body area with the remaining 51 percent, or greater, being solid black.
1/ Angus influence cattle may be either horned or polled. Carcasses of certified live animals which display certain non-Angus characteristics (e.g.; dairy conformation, Brahman humps) shall be excluded as specified in the carcass specifications for approved programs."

For those who might be interested, I'll give you a short history of the Certified Angus Beef program. About 35 years ago we had an influx of Continental cattle into the US. Limousin from France, Simmentals from Germany are two of the breeds. They were much larger than the British cattle here in the US, Angus, Herefords and Shorthorns. The packers loved them. They got a lot more meat from one animal. But a problem occured. They meat quality was lower than the British breeds produced. So the packers and others petitioned the USDA to change the grading standards. Lower them. The American Angus Association fought that change hard, but lost. They truly believed the American consumer would pay extra for quality beef so they started the Certified Angus Beef program. It started slow and times were tough for the Association. The larger cattle were more popular, registrations of Angus cattle dropped. But a strange thing happened. Beef demand slowed. Now that was about the time doctors were telling people to cut down on red meat, so that may have also had an influence, but I'm convinced the changing of the grading system is partly responisble for the lowering of beef demand in this country. Gradually CAB became recognized as a quality, consistent cut of meat and demand grew. Today almost every packing plant is licensed to sell CAB. There are about 40 branded beef lines in the nation's supermarkets that use the word "Angus" in their name, but Certified Angus Beef is the oldest and best recognized and is owned by the American Angus Association. So, go ahead, guys, enjoy a good steak. We Angus producers need the money!! Smile
Back to top

PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 4:56 am    Post subject: My two cents Reply with quote

I originally came here for the brining article, but after reading some of these posts I feel I could offer some valuable insights. First of all, any cut of red meat you purchase is so far away from being a "diet item" that you might as well go for a more fatty, flavorful cut. Secondly, the USDA grading system has proven (IMHO) to be a great predictor of the quality of a properly prepared roast or steak.

USDA Prime (especially) will give you a great strip or sirloin stake.

USDA Choice will give you a prime rib or triple trimmed fillet mignon that will taste so close to USDA Prime that it won't justify the extra cost. USDA Choice is also sold by some supermarkets here in the Midwest as the everyday meat at everyday price. Any choice steak should be acceptable.

USDA Select can go either way.

All my comments assume non aged meat. As for Kobe, I've never had it but I would tend to guess that the price might skew some people's opinions of it. Kind of like expensive vodka.
Back to top

PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 1:10 am    Post subject: You Are What You Eat (Literally) Reply with quote

Concerning Europe's ban on geneticlly altered products please understand that it is done primarily as an excuse to protect their farmers against imports. They do that a lot, that was how ISO 9000 standards first came on te scene, as a non-tariff trade barrier. As for the safety of genetically altered foods you will have to make up your mind based on some other crieria.

Genetically Modified foods are not healthy. Below is more information explaining this but as far as cooking purposes I can recommend avoiding corn-fed beef as virtually all corn in the US is GM now. I just called Rancher's Reserve and they do use hormones and antibiotics but their cow's are fed non GM grain. I purchase Organic Beef only because of the overwhelming evidence against the use of pesticides, genetic modification, hormones, and other nasty chemicals.

And if reading something isn't going to prove it to you and you don't mind spending a little more for a week- Buy a small bottle of CellFood (little droplets you add to water) and detox yourself(removes toxins), eat organic food, and keep the use of any kind of products with more than 20 things listed under ingredients to a minimum (like make-up). You will feel like crap the first couple days as you detox with CellFood depending on how healthy you are, but you will notice you have much more energy and require less sleep. I realize this sounds like a nature-nut rant but I am just a civil-engineer trying to help out. I have experienced the effects of this first hand, I now have more energy than I had at 18. This also cures most health problems.

Several recent studies confirm fears that genetically modified (GM) foods damage human health. These studies were released as the World Trade Organization (WTO) moved toward upholding the ruling that the European Union has violated international trade rules by stopping importation of GM foods.

Research by the Russian Academy of Sciences released in December 2005 found that more than half of the offspring of rats fed GM soy died within the first three weeks of life, six times as many as those born to mothers fed on non-modified soy. Six times as many offspring fed GM soy were also severely underweight.

In November 2005, a private research institute in Australia, CSIRO Plant Industry, put a halt to further development of a GM pea cultivator when it was found to cause an immune response in laboratory mice.

In the summer of 2005, an Italian research team led by a cellular biologist at the University of Urbino published confirmation that absorption of GM soy by mice causes development of misshapen liver cells, as well as other cellular anomalies.

In May of 2005 the review of a highly confidential and controversial Monsanto report on test results of corn modified with Monsanto MON863 was published in The Independent/UK.

If you are interested in reading more about CellFood you can rad more about it at I am not affiliated with them in any way I am just a huge fan of their product and what it has done for my life. (It also makes your sweat not smell bad as it removes the toxins which attach themselves to odor-causing bacteria).

Thanks for reading and enjoy those steaks! Throw some habeņeros and lime in with the steaks before you cook them and make sure to cook them as cold as possible to seer in the juices!
Back to top

PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CellFood Shill:

You're a nut. People have been eating genetically modified (GM) food since the beginning of civilization... what is selective breeding and wild-crop domestication if not an inefficient method of genetic modification?

No difference, except that 1, we're a lot more efficient now, and 2, anti-technology Luddites tend to follow their emotions and fearmongering claims rather than actual science.

As for searing to keep the juices in, that's simply false. You lose the same amount of liquid either way. Searing is to create a savory, carmelized crust.
Back to top

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:40 pm    Post subject: beef Reply with quote

Amazed that I didn't see anthing on here about Omaha Steaks. I happen to live close to one of their stores and I am able to take advantage of sales and two for one board etc. Also no delivery charge. So I usually spend just a little more than at the supermarket. I have never found such a high level of consistency of quaility meats than I have with their their's (all of their products for that matter) Yeah yeah I know what you're going to say about frozen and all that but I defy anyone to tell the differance if you put it side by side with an unfrozen one from the market.
Back to top

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 3:44 pm    Post subject: An article on cuts of beef would be useful Reply with quote

I know it would not be a quick article but a description of cuts of beef would be extremely helpful. I have yet to find an article that does the subject justice. Part of the problem is that there are multiple names for many cuts (often with regional variations). There are also multiple ways to cut up each primal. It is way too common to have a recipe call for a cut and not be able to find it at the store. Not necessarily because it isn't there but because I'm not sure what to look for!

Perhaps a short article for each primal would work.

We are engineers. We can solve this problem.
Back to top

PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:46 pm    Post subject: Sad Reply with quote

1. American beef, with few artisanal exceptions, is THE worst beef in the world, no question. The cattle are fed on flavorless genetically engineered corn stalks, injected with growth hormones and all other sorts of chemicals, spend a good chunk of their life almost completely motionless in feedlots and as a result we get a fatty but hopelessly bland hunk of meat. At least it's not completely flavorless, like American chicken and American pork.

2. Fat does not equal flavor. In fact, beef fat is pretty flavorless as anyone who has ever cooked apple pies with beef tallow can attest. Flavorful feed (i.e. flavorful pasture grasses and wildflowers) give the flavor to meat.

3. Living in small town or rural America will not give you any access to higher-quality meat, just the opposite: the best beef is invariably shipped directly from slaughterhouses to wealthier locales, like New York City and Chicago. Small-town America is a perfect gastronomic hell of Wonderbread and Chicken McNuggets and those hopelessly mediocre "Omaha" steaks.

To conclude.. If you care about good food, choose 100% pasture-raised, organic beef from Arizona and neighboring states (flavorful pasture grasses). If REAL beef is too lean for you, cook it rare and serve it with plenty of butter (REAL butter, over 80% fat, from free-range pastured cows, not the watery flavorless supermarket variety).
Back to top

PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:14 am    Post subject: US Beef is the Best in the World Reply with quote

You obvioiusly don't travel.

Beef in Europe and Asia is notoriously bad. The US has the best beef in the world.
Back to top

PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to break this to you, Clay, but the US doesn't have the best beef. Not by a long shot.

I saw this as somebody who's travelled extensively--Argentine beef wins hands down, followed by (believe it or not) New Zealand and Brazil.

American beef is mushy and tastes vaguely of corn. Eating steak in Argentina was a near-religious experience. Ironically, because so much of it is exported, the best New Zealand beef I've ever had was in the United Arab Emirates--but what a piece of meat it was.
Back to top

PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"--Argentine beef wins hands down, followed by (believe it or not) New Zealand and Brazil"

Free-range, semi-feral beef wins hands down - always, in any taste competition. Argentine beef is not hugely different from Brazilian beef or, for that matter, from most of South American beef. Likewise, 100% pastured Australian beef is as good as NZ beef. Europe's beef is mostly as flavorless these days as American beef. Fully pastured cattle from the Scottish highlands, the Pyrenees and some other regions do produce excellent beef. Asia has never been a big beef-eating region. I'd suggest looking for excellent lamb there, though. Sadly, it's harder and harder to find.
Back to top

Joined: 08 Nov 2010
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 5:50 pm    Post subject: Grades of Beef Reply with quote

Simply put USDA Prime is the best, only 2% of all beef is graded Prime.
It important to note that the breed is also important as the dairy industry can grade the holsteins breed prime. So stick with hereford, texas longhorn, angus etc. Unsure See the List of cattle breeds - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dry aged vs Wet aged, the dry age beef is the ultimate in total dining experience, costs are more but well worth it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1197
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

>>the breed is also important as the dairy industry can grade the holsteins breed prime.

last I looked, it is a USDA inspector that did meat grading, not "the dairy industry" - based on their impression of meat quality and marbling - regardless of breed.

>>wet vs dry aging
no quibble about that - dry aging reduces the moisture in the meat, concentrates flavor, etc. "wet aging" in Cryovac is not much more than keeping the meat from spoiling for an extended shelf life.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Cooking For Engineers Forum Index -> Comments Forum All times are GMT
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Page 2 of 3

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You can reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You can delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group