For the first time since the adoption of the current U.S. Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef in 1997, the U.S. Department of Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is looking to move forward on adjusting methods used to keep up with changes in animal raising and feeding.

“When beef is voluntarily graded, the official grade may consist of a quality grade, a yield grade, or both. The quality grades principally refer to the characteristics of marbling and maturity and are intended to identify differences in the flavor and satisfaction of eating cooked beef,” says the USDA’s official release. “The principal official USDA quality grades for young cattle and carcasses are Prime, Choice, Select, and Standard.”

Throughout the years, changes in trends regarding export requirements, animal and packing plant management, feeding methods and grading instruments have occurred. With the proposed changes, grading would more accurately reflect the quality of meat consumers purchase.  

“The yield grade is used to predict the percentage of a carcass that should yield boneless, closely trimmed retail cuts and is an important tool for determining value of both live cattle and beef carcasses. The beef yield grade standard and equation was developed 50 years ago,” says USDA. “Changes that have affected the quality of beef have similarly affected carcass yield, and AMS is seeking input for improving the yield grade equation.”

The public comment period on the revised changes are open until November 13, 2014. Comments should be sent to: Beef Carcass Revisions, Standardization Branch, LPS Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, STOP 0258, Washington, D.C. 20250. Comments may also be sent by fax to: (202) 690-2746 or by e-mail to:

Click here for the full release.