Comment period open for revised beef carcass grading system

 Resize text         Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

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.

Comments (3) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Wyo  |  August, 17, 2014 at 06:27 PM

Easiest comment ever.........just "chuck" the USDA grading system and adopted the Australian MSA system. Much better for both producers and consumers. Back to will never happen as the "meatheads" at USDA believe they and their work matters.

manhattan ks  |  August, 19, 2014 at 01:24 AM

Sorry Graybull the Australian isn't any better than the USDA system, and the USDA system is a lot easier to understand. The Aussie system doesn't pass much useful information along that the USDA system doesn't already provide.

Janet Martin    
NC  |  August, 19, 2014 at 06:41 AM

I just read through the whole standards document--I fail to see much reason to revise. Having grown up with beef production, I'm an educated consumer, but living now in a non beef growing region, I can pretty clearly state that most consumers are totally ignorant of these standards and are purchasing these days on things like "guaranteed Angus" or "grassfed" or "organic." Prime still sounds good to folks, but it's clear to me that what goes on the meat shelves in the supermarket or the plate in the local chain restaurant as "prime rib" is unlikely to be prime grade beef (the cut itself has been renamed). I suspect any revisions will be to permit lower grade beef to slide onto shelves without derrogratory appellations.


The Krone BiG X features a MAN engine and a revolutionary crop flow design, VariStream. VariStream adapts the cross section ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides