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Everything evolves so quickly in our food industry which makes it crucial to stay up to date on significant changes and trends. Please refer to the updated articles in this section for convenient info on important topics.


The grading of beef carcasses relies on a standardized measurement system to segregate product into classes with uniform characteristics and to support pricing decisions based on expectations of meat quality and yield.
In both Canada and the U.S., a quality grade as well as a yield grade can be assigned. The quality grade measures parameters related to eating quality and consumer acceptance.
Canada has developed grading standards that mirror the U.S. marbling standards (Canada Prime, Canada AAA, Canada AA, Canada A). Canada’s standards include grading for additional quality characteristics beyond those graded by the U.S. standards, which may result in a more consistent product for customers.


Marbling is intramuscular fat (fat between muscle fibers) which is visible as white flecks. The size and distribution of marbling deposits has a significant impact on eating quality. In the U.S., level of marbling is the primary quality characteristic that determines the grade category into which beef is placed. In Canada qualities in addition to marbling are considered. Canadian marbling standards mirror those measured for in the U.S.


Only carcasses assessed as youthful qualify for Canada Prime, Canada AAA, Canada AA or Canada A grades. As a general rule, meat from older animals becomes less tender.

Meat colour

Consumers prefer beef that is a bright red colour. In some cases stress depleting energy stores in the muscle can result in meat becoming dark. This is known in the industry as “dark cutters”. Dark cutters are not permitted in Canada’s top four grades. Dark cutters are accepted in USDA Choice, Select and Standard grades unless specified otherwise.

Fat colour

Consumers generally prefer beef with fat that appears white over beef with fat that appears yellow. Yellow fat frequently is an indication that the meat is from an older animal. Under the Canadian grading system, carcasses with yellow fat cannot be graded Canada Prime, AAA, AA or A. Presently yellow fat is not considered a quality defect in the U.S. grading system.

Meat texture

The best eating quality is associated with a firm muscle texture. Firm muscle texture is a requirement in all four Canadian grades. The present USDA grading system has a minimum standard of moderately firm muscle texture for the Prime through Select grades and permits a soft muscle texture in the Standard grade.


Muscling is an indication of the carcass’s ability to yield efficiently and also provides an overall measure of quality. Carcasses which are graded Canada Prime, AAA, AA or A must have a minimum standard of muscling measured as good to excellent with some deficiencies. There is no muscling requirement for USDA Prime, USDA Choice, USDA Select or USDA Standard.
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