Beef quality refers to the expected eating characteristics (tenderness, juiciness and flavor) of the cooked product. USDA Quality Grades are used to reflect differences in expected eating quality among beef carcasses. There are eight USDA Quality Grades for beef: Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner. When graded, a USDA Grade Shield is applied to the carcass. USDA Grading is a voluntary service provided by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and is paid for by packers who request the service.

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