Meat Evaluation Tackk

The purpose of this poster is to tell the average person the best meat to pick from the grocery store.

Beef Evaluation Tips

There are five different quality grades of beef. They are as follows:

Prime- best grade of meat, has most abundant marbling

Choice- high quality but less marbling

Select- uniform in quality and leaner

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

Utility- used to make ground beef and processed products

What Is Marbling?

Marbling is the intermingling of fat in the muscle fibers.  The more marbling there is the better.

Fat Content

There is a difference between fat and marbling.  Fat content is the total of all the amount of fat, while marbling is only the fat that is intermingled with the muscle.  Fat content should not be soft and oily.

Color of the Meat

The color of the beef should be red.  Avoid any brownish or different colored meat, and make sure the meat you choose is red throughout.

Don't Get the Cheapest Meat You Can.

While you may be tempted to get the cheapest possible meat you can, DONT!  You may think that there can't really be a difference, because they're all just meat, but there really is a difference.  Get the best grade you can afford, trust me it'll be worth it.

Beef Deformities to Watch Out For

Pink Meat- if the beef is pink that means it is immature and won't have any flavor.

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.

Ragged Edges, Hacked Bits, or Uneven Sections- These show poor handling.  The meat should smooth, and cuts of the same variety should be about the same size and thickness.

Bad Smell- This one should be obvious, but don't buy any beef that smells rancid or rotten.

Meat Evaluation Tips For Pork

Marbling-  For best flavor and tenderness pork should be well marbled.

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

Fat Content- There should be a decent amount of fat.  It should also be firm and white.

Meat Content- It should have more lean meat than bone and fat.

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

Deformities to Look Out for In Pork

Gray Meat- Be sure to look out for gray meat in pork, if it is gray then it won't have flavor and will be of less quality than pink meat.

Too Much Fat- Pork shouldn't have too much fat, if it does it will take away from the flavor.

Soft Meat- You want to make sure that the pork that you pick is firm, otherwise your meat could be of poor quality.

Rancid Smell- Same as with the beef, if it doesn't smell good, then why would you eat it? If a meat smells rotten then it most likely is and you shouldn't eat for both your health and because it would taste disgusting

Meat Evaluation Tips for Poultry

Grades for Poultry-There are three grades for poultry; A, B, and C. A is the highest quality and the only grade that is likely to be seen at the retail level. This grade indicates that the poultry products are virtually free from defects.

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

Packaging-  The packaging shouldn't have any holes or tears, if it does the meat could have germs of other unwanted substances in it.

Refrigeration-The poultry should be refrigerated properly so that is doesn't have freezer burn, and so it is frozen completely.

Firmness-You should check for firmness so you know it is a high quality meat.

Deformities to Look Out For In Poultry

Bruises and Blotchy Marks-avoid birds with bruises and blotchy marks, as these can be signs of poor handling.

Broken Bones-If a bird has broken bones then it is a sign that is it a low quality of meat.

Torn Skin or Exposed Flesh- There shouldn't be any torn skin or exposed flesh that can dry it out while cooking it.

Sunken or Partially Fleshed-If the bird isn't fully fleshed then you shouldn't buy it, because it is a sign low quality meat.

USDA Grades and What They Mean

Beef Grades

Beef is graded as whole carcasses in two ways

Quality grades - for tenderness, juiciness, and flavor.

  • Prime grade-is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling and is generally sold in restaurants and hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking (broiling, roasting, or grilling).
  • Choice grade-is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are, like Prime, suited to dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts, such as those from the rump, round, and blade chuck, can also be cooked with dry heat if not overcooked. Such cuts will be most tender if "braised" — roasted, or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.
  • Select grade-is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts (loin, rib, sirloin) should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking or braised to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor.
  • Standard and Commercial grades- are frequently sold as ungraded or as "store brand" meat.
  • Utility, Cutter, and Canner- 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 USDA 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. This grade indicates that the poultry products are virtually free from defects such as bruises, discolorations, and feathers. Bone-in products have no broken bones. For whole birds and parts with the skin on, there are no tears in the skin or exposed flesh that could dry out during cooking, and a good covering of fat under the skin. Also, whole birds and parts will be fully fleshed and meaty.

    The U.S. grade shield for poultry may be found on the following chilled or frozen ready-to-cook poultry products: whole carcasses and parts, as well as roasts, tenderloins, and other boneless and/or skinless poultry products that are being marketed. There are no grade standards for necks, wing tips, tails, giblets, or ground poultry.
  • Grades 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.

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.

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