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TheDailyMeal.com: Food Labels, Decoded

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Meat Grading

The USDA runs two separate programs for grading one is mandatory and the other voluntary. The mandatory program inspects for "wholesomeness," while the voluntary program is the one that most people are familiar with.

On beef, you will likely see one of three grades, based primarily on marbling, the fat found within the muscle. You will probably see USDA Select and Choice most often Choice has more marbling than Select. At the top end of the scale is Prime, most often seen in specialty retailers and restaurants. At the bottom end of the scale are USDA Standard, Cutter, and Canner, which are not usually seen in stores and used to make other products such as ground beef.

For poultry, you should only see Grade A meat in stores. Grade A simply means that "poultry products are virtually free from 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" Grades B and C are used in processed products.

Click here to see the Beef Grading Video.

(Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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