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This is from a long post by Jugggy da Beerman,a comp cook,from Ray Basso's forum.

A lot is technical about beef carcass contest grading,but this paragraph speaks to our questions about what we may see stamped on beef at the grocery.

Quality Grades
Beef quality grades are determined by two factors: marbling and maturity. Marbling is the small flecks of fat found within the muscle. Marbling helps keep the meat juicy, adds flavor and has a slight correlation to tenderness of the meat. Maturity is based on characteristics of the carcass, such as the amount of bone cartilage that has turned to hard bone, but relates to the actual age of the live animal. However, in carcass shows, maturity has minimal effects on rankings as nearly all animals are in the "young" or "A " maturity classification, which includes beef animals between 9 and 30 months of age. When animals are all in the same maturity class, they all are eligible for the same quality grades.

The quality grades for "A" maturity animals are Prime, Choice, Select and Standard. Marbling is divided into different degrees or ranges from Abundant to Practically Devoid. Prime is considered the highest quality grade and has the most marbling. Nationwide, only about 2% of carcasses grade Prime. Choice is the next highest quality grade and is divided into thirds: High Choice, Average Choice and Low Choice. The Select grade is divided into High Select and Low Select. Standard grade carcasses have the least marbling. Each quality grade has a specific degree of marbling associated with it, which is usually listed adjacent to quality grade on carcass data.

In many carcass contests, carcasses must grade Choice or Prime to be eligible for the top rankings. This is largely based on industry standards that discount carcasses below a Low Choice quality grade. Carcasses that have an Average Choice or higher quality grade often receive a monetary premium, and may receive some advantage in the ranking system. Because of the negative effects on juiciness and flavor associated with the lack of marbling in Standard carcasses, these carcasses usually are heavily discounted, and are in the lowest rankings in a carcass contest. A "No Roll" carcass is one that is not quality graded, usually because it will be a relatively low quality grade, either Select or Standard.

"Dark cutters" are another quality classification that will be in the lowest rankings of a carcass contest. "Dark cutters" have lean that is dark red to almost black in color with a sticky or gummy texture. This condition often occurs in cattle that have been stressed for a relatively long period of time just before slaughter. Dark cutters are safe to eat and their taste and tenderness is usually not negatively affected. However, consumer acceptability and carcass value are reduced.

"Bullocks" are carcasses that often are not quality graded and receive a NoRoll classification. Bullock carcasses are those that are in the "A" maturity classification, but exhibit characteristics similar to bull carcasses. These characteristics include darker and coarser textured lean, a heavy crest (neck), and one muscle, commonly called the "jump muscle," in the round that is highly developed.
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There is not a difference in gov't grading.

The quick and dirty explanation is that jimmy carter moved all beef grades up one level,to get the farm vote.

i.e., now prime could be the better part of choice,choice should have been select,select should be cutter/noroll.

The CAB program is a marketing group,maybe $25 for national membership as Angus,$10 state membership as Angus,and you could sau that the momma/heifer was at least some part Angus and not dairy,or Brahma.

In theory,the CAB rating should/could/maybe ,be the upper 1/3-1/2 of the gov't choice.

Given a choice ,at the same price,I'd rather compete with CAB.

Hope this helps a little.
Thanks for the input.Always nice to see what highly trained inspectors
can do with unlimited time and equipment in a college meats lab.

Both my boys are fourth generation cattle ranchers in KY.As you know KY sends a great amount of feeder steers to the OK,KS,TX feedlots.One son has one of his degrees in Ag Economics and the other is an accountant in the industry.One of my partners has one degree from Animal Science and is 4th generation bloodstock rancher.Always nice to accompany and watching the University do testing,

And then to see how much time is given to the core check in the loin for a gov't tester to grade and the look at a steer to see if it is 50% some kind of black color ,doesn't have a drop ear,or hump and get the extra payment at the yards for "some kind of angus something".

Then go to the grocery store and they "give" their own superior grade system? Roll Eyes

But,this does give us an idea what could be. SmilerHopefully it just gives us all something to look for when we attempt to go buy that one packer ,or a 600 pound side.

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