How to evaluate meat- poultry, beef, and swine

Tips on how to evaluate meat.

Meat evaluation tips for pork

Color of meat- The color of the meat should be a grayish-pink hue.

Meat content- There should be more lean meat than bone and fat content.

Marbling- Pork should be well marbled for tenderness and best flavor.

Muscling Degree- The degrees of muscling are thick, average, and thin. United States No. 1 needs to have at least averaging. Thicker muscling is better and helps offset the thicker back fat.   

Deformities to be ware of in pork

High fat- Fat takes away from the flavor, but pork shouldn't have that much.

Rancid smell- Don't eat it if it doesn't smell good, do that for your health and your taste buds.

Grey meat- If the pork is grey then it won't have as much flavor.

Soft meat- Your meat should be firm, if not then it could be poor quality.

Meat evaluation tips for beef

The 5 different grades of beef include:

Choice- less marbling, high quality

Standard- sold as non-graded or store-brand meat

Select- uniform in quality, leaner

Prime- most abundant marbling, best grade of meat

Utility- used for processed products and ground beef

Whats marbling?- Marbling is the intermingling of fat in the muscle fibers. More marbling the better.

Fat content- Remember, the color of beef should be red! Be aware and avoid any grayish and brownish coloring in meat. It's not safe for you. Choose meat that is red and fresh looking.

Cheap meat?- The more expensive the meat is, more than likely the better the quality is. Don't always try to go the cheap way out.    

Deformities to be aware of in beef

Poor texture- Texture is how tight or uniform the grain of the meat looks. If this is poor it can be a sign of poor handling or poor quality meat.

Bad smell- If it smells bad, don't get it!!

Pink meat- Pink meat is immature and it won't taste as good.

Ragged edges, hacked bits, or uneven sections- The meat should be smooth, and cuts of the same variety, should be about the same size in thickness.

Meat evaluation tips for poultry

Color- The color of the bird should be creamy white to yellow.

Firmness- Firmness=high quality

Grades or poultry- There are three grades for poultry, A, B, C. A is for the highest quality.

Packaging- Avoid holes or any tears in the packages because that means there could be germs in the meat.

Refrigeration- Make sure to keep your meat in the fridge to avoid freezer burn, but keep it frozen properly.

Deformities in poultry

Exposed flesh/torn skin- If there is torn skin that can dry out during cooking, so avoid that.

Broken bones- Broken bones=poor quality meat

Sunken/partially fleshed- Not fully fleshed=low quality meat

Bruises/blotchy marks- Bruises=poor handling

Pork grades

Pork is not graded with USDA quality grades as it is generally produced from young animals that have been bred and fed to produce more uniformly tender meat. Appearance is an important guide in buying fresh pork. Look for cuts with a relatively small amount of fat over the outside and with meat that is firm and grayish pink in color. For best flavor and tenderness, meat should have a small amount of marbling.

Beef grades

Beef is graded in two different way.

Quality grades-

Prime grade- It has abundant marbling and the best meat.

Choice grade- Is high quality, but has less marbling than prime

Select grade- Fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, and it may have less juices than higher quality meat

Standard and commercial grades- are frequently sold as ungraded or as "store brand" meat.

Utility, cutter, an caner- grades are seldom, if ever, sold at retail but are used instead to make ground beef and processed products.

Yield grades- for the amount of usable lean meat on the carcass. There are eight quality grades for beef. Quality grades are based on the amount of marbling (flecks of fat within the lean), color, and maturity.

Yield grades-

range from "1" to "5" and indicate the amount of usable meat from a carcass. Yield grade 1 is the highest grade and denotes the greatest ratio of lean to fat; yield grade 5 is the lowest yield ratio. Though yield grades are not something consumers normally see, they are most useful when purchasing a side or carcass of beef for the freeze

Poultry grades

The grades for poultry are A, B, and C.

Grade A- is the highest quality and the only grade that is likely to be seen at the retail level.

Grade B, and C- poultry are usually used in further-processed products where the poultry meat is cut up, chopped, or ground. If sold at retail, they are usually not grade identified.

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