USDA Releases New Poultry Picture Series

January 10, 2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today launched a new training tool titled the “Poultry Picture Series” to provide a visual guide on poultry grading defect tolerances that impact product quality. The series, which is a supplement to the U.S. Classes, Grades, and Standards for Poultry, will be available as a spiralbound printed resource, a digital document, and as a web-based photo library. It provides supplemental information in a user-friendly and accessible format to increase awareness and knowledge of the factors that affect USDA poultry grades.

AMS develops and maintains official grade standards for poultry products, which measure factors such as meat yield, fat covering, freedom from defects such as cuts and tears in the skin, feathers, broken/disjointed bones, discolorations, and ready-to-cook factors. The standards are applied to determine the quality of the product and are not a reflection of wholesomeness, which is determined by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) prior to the grading process.

The illustrations are designed to assist USDA Poultry Graders, industry, academia, and food buyers in determining defect tolerances and quality designations in a visual format. Carcass and parts must be graded to these defect tolerances for the product to bear the USDA Grade Shield. All photos and defect criteria referenced in this picture series apply to chickens within the two to six pound size range. The official U.S. Classes, Standards, and Grades for Poultry provides tolerances of other carcass weights. The Poultry Picture Series and further information about poultry grading are available at:

AMS will introduce the series at the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Ga., on January 24, 2023, in room C203-204.

Additionally, AMS will host a webinar to provide an overview of the series on February 8, 2023, at 1 p.m. ET. Interested stakeholders must register for the webinar prior to attending.

Poultry producers, packers, wholesalers, food manufacturers, food service operators, food retailers, and consumers rely on USDA’s poultry grading services to ensure that requirements are met for class, quality, condition, and other factors. This new Poultry Picture Series will expand training materials to the broader poultry industry and provide an additional tool for producers and stakeholders to support their understanding of the factors and defects that affect a product’s quality and ultimately its market value.

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