Beef Grading Shields

U.S. grades are based on nationally uniform standards of quality developed by AMS.  These standards promote uniformity and assurance of product quality on a continuous basis regardless of supplier.  The official USDA grade shield indicates the product's quality level.

Beef Grades

The USDA grade shields are highly regarded as symbols of high-quality American beef.  Quality grades are widely used as a “language” within the beef industry, making business transactions easier and providing a vital link to support rural America.

USDA Prime Color ShieldUSDA Black and White Pime Logo

Prime beef is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has slightly abundant marbling (the amount of fat interspersed with lean meat), and is generally sold in upscale restaurants. View the marbling images for Moderately Abundant (jpg) and Slightly Abundant (jpg)

USDA Color Choice ShieldBlack and White USDA Choice logo

Choice beef is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. It has at least a Small amount of marbling.  View the marbling images for Moderate (jpg), Modest (jpg) and Small (jpg)

USDA Select Color ShieldBlack and White USDA Select Shield

Select beef is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. It has at least a Slight amount of marbling. View the marbling image for Slight (jpg).

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of USDA, academia and the industry, approved beef processors can now market products as USDA-certified tender or very tender through product labeling, advertisements and/or promotions.

USDA Beef Grade Shield TenderThe USDA Certified Tender shield provides consumers with a marketing tool to help identify specific cuts of beef that are consistently tender when compared to objective criteria that has been validated by extensive consumer research.  The USDA Tenderness Program certifies specific cuts of beef for tenderness based on the applicable American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International tenderness standard.

 

USDA Beef Grade Shield Very TenderThe USDA Certified Very Tender shield provides consumers with a marketing tool to help identify specific cuts of beef that are consistently very tender when compared to objective criteria that has been validated by extensive consumer research.  The USDA Tenderness Program certifies specific cuts of beef for very tender based on the applicable American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International tenderness standard.

 

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