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Posts tagged: beef grades

Does Your Smoked Brisket Make the Grade?

Cooked brisket

Official USDA quality grade labels provide assurance that your beef cuts meet specific quality thresholds that are individually assessed by a select staff of just over 140 skilled and highly trained USDA beef graders.

I live for barbeque season. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of getting that meat done just right, and nothing like the gratification that comes with sharing it with friends and family gathered on a sunny summer’s day.

When it comes to successful barbeque, I have a bit more skin in the game than most.  You see, for me a quality eating experience at a family or community function isn’t just a personal goal – it’s a professional calling.  My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is committed to helping meat and poultry producers market their high quality products to consumers across the nation (and the world), and quality is the name of our game. Read more »

A Huge Undertaking with Tremendous Benefit – USDA’s Integral Role in the National Beef Quality Audit

Chad Nelson with the University of Nebraska team

Chad Nelson takes a break from an audit with the University of Nebraska team. Pictured left to right: Kolin Scheele, Dr. Ty Schmidt, Chad Nelson, Laura Gorecki and Joe Buntyn.

About once every five years since 1991, the National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) brings together producers, consumers, academia, and government in a collaborative research and data collection exercise that spans the entire U.S. beef industry.  Funded by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (the beef checkoff program), the NBQA assesses the current status of the industry regarding production processes and practices that ultimately affect consumer demand for beef.

The audit uses a multi-phase approach to identify the top challenges the fed-beef (cattle raised for meat production) industry faces.  The NBQA first gathers data to measure current quality and consistency of U.S fed-beef, and then quantifies the level to which cattle producers are applying common sense husbandry techniques, specifically the Beef Quality Assurance principles, to safeguard that quality.  The results are translated into practical guidance for continued improvement in the production of fed-beef and, in turn, consumers’ acceptance of the end products found in stores. Read more »

Creating Uniformity in a Diverse Industry

Livestock

Livestock correlations, like the one held at Penn State, are one way that USDA Market News ensures the accuracy and consistency in its reports. The correlation allowed reporters to compare live animal assessments and grades with the post-slaughter assessment and grades of the same animals.

During its 100 years of serving the livestock industry, USDA Market News – part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – has prided itself in creating transparency and clarity in the marketplace by allowing all industry stakeholders to have the same information about the market at the same time.  The entire agricultural supply chain relies on USDA Market News for timely, unbiased data.  Without this free service, information would not be available to everyone equally, making USDA Market News a vital lifeline for America’s agricultural economy.

Over the years, countless changes have occurred in the livestock industry – like the way that livestock standards are applied and the way market reporting is conducted.  To keep up with these changes, livestock correlations are held to assure the industry that all USDA market reporters are applying the USDA’s livestock grades and standards consistently and accurately. Read more »

Excellence in Taste and Flavor: American Kobe-Style Beef

Highly prized for its rich flavor, Wagyu beef is among the finest beef in the world. USDA’s certification programs have successfully helped the industry market its brands with USDA integrity for over twenty years. Photo courtesy Premshree Pillai. Used with permission.

Highly prized for its rich flavor, Wagyu beef is among the finest beef in the world. USDA’s certification programs have successfully helped the industry market its brands with USDA integrity for over twenty years. Photo courtesy Premshree Pillai. Used with permission.

When consumers hear the term Kobe, the first thought that comes to mind is typically not a city in Japan, but rather a juicy steak right off the grill.  Kobe beef is globally renowned for its rich flavor, juiciness, and tenderness or high marbling content.  Kobe beef is cuts of beef from the Tajima strain of Wagyu cattle (which mean Japanese cattle), raised in Kobe, Japan.  But did you know you can find Kobe-style beef produced right here in the United States?

Since 1994, U.S. producers have worked to offer American Kobe-style beef that features the same characteristics, marbling and flavor that defines Japan’s Kobe beef by bringing herds of Kryoshi and Akaushi breeds of Wagyu cattle to the United States.  The same closed herd and multi-trait selection process used for Kobe beef was adopted and is now used by various U.S. trade associations (American Akaushi Association, the American Wagyu Association, and the Texas Wagyu Association) that promote and uphold the industry standards. Highly prized for their rich flavor, these cattle produce what some would argue is among the finest beef in the world. Read more »

Beef Up Your Knowledge: Meat Marbling 101

An infographic illustrating beef marbling. Selecting the right USDA grade of beef for your dish will help guarantee culinary success. Click to see a larger version.

An infographic illustrating beef marbling. Selecting the right USDA grade of beef for your dish will help guarantee culinary success. Click to see a larger version.

Grilling season is upon us.  It’s time to enjoy that wonderful smell of meat cooking across neighborhood backyards. With so many choices available at your store and meat counter, choosing the best cut of meat for your dish can be overwhelming. With a bit of beef knowledge, you can avoid that problem, and be the king or queen of the barbeque.

We’ve covered the basics of USDA beef grades, explaining the difference between USDA Prime, Choice or Select. This time around, we’re going to look at the marbling – or fine threads of fat – within different grades of meat.  Marbling is what gives beef its flavor, juiciness and tenderness.  USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) employs 200 highly-skilled beef graders who, sometimes with the help of electronic monitoring, evaluate several factors that determine the grade, including the amount and distribution of marbling. Read more »