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Buying Bulk Meat

Carcass beef is normally sold by its "hanging" weight. This weight includes approximately 25% fat and bone. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed voluntary grades for quality and yield of carcass beef. Quality grades relate to tenderness and flavor and include, in decreasing order, USDA Prime, Choice, Select*, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner, with Prime being the most flavorable grade. Consumers should disregard any other descriptive meat terms other than government grading. For example, "U.S. Fancy", "USDA Grade A" and "Premium" are not government grades.
Consumers are advised to: 1) Understand all costs that are included in the price per pound such as processing and finance charges. Don't be influenced by a "free" bonus offer of pork chops, turkey, chicken, etc. Their cost may be included in the price of what you buy; 2) Arrange to select meat and have it cut on the same day that you are present. Most reliable dealers will allow you to be present when your selection of meat is cut and wrapped; 3) Be cautious of such phrases as "beef bundles", or "steak packages." Make sure the representative specifies in writing the USDA grade, the type and the quantity of the various cuts; and 4) read and understand the terms of the contract before signing.

* "Select" has replaced "Good" in beef only.

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