How Meat is Graded

Whether it’s a great piece of pork or a cut of beef, the meat grading system exists for a very important purpose. If you’ve wondered how the grading system for meat works, we’re here to lay it all out for you! 

How the grading system for meat works

The purpose of meat grading systems is to ensure that quality meat production standards are followed at all times. The system indicates things like the age and fat content of the meat and helps to determine how the meat should be priced in stores. The same grading system is used for beef, mutton, lamb, and goat but the grading system for pork differs due to a difference in fat distribution. The fat classification for products like mutton and lamb follows the scale below:
  • 0 = no fat
  • 6 = excessive fat

Meat grading for pork products

The fatness of a pork product is indicated by a three-figure number, such as 222. The classes of pork are classified into 1 of 6 groups (called PORCUS) according to their lean meat percentage (%LM). This is calculated by measuring fat thickness (FT) and eye muscle thickness. The classes are broken up as follows: 
  • P ≥ 70
  • O 69-69
  • R 66-67
  • C 64-65
  • U 62-63
  • S ≤ 61
In addition to calculating the lean meat percentage, graders will also look at the bruising classification of pork. Class 1 is slightly bruised, class 2 is moderately bruised, and class 3 is severely bruised. This classification deciphers the quality and value of pork with class 3 being the least desired for pork producers. Bruised areas of the pork meat have to be removed before being packaged and sold to avoid bacterial growth which increases the rate of decomposition, increasing the spoil rate. 

Beef classification and grading 

Beef is graded in two ways: quality grades for tenderness, juiciness, and flavour and yield grades for the amount of usable, lean meat on the carcass. There are three quality grades for beef: prime beef, choice beef, and select beef. 
  • Prime Beef: from young, well-fed beef cattle. Lots of marbling is evident and it’s often sold in restaurants/hotels 
  • Choice Beef: high-quality beef but with less marbling than prime grades. These are normally used for roasts and steaks from the loin and the ribs will be tender and juicy.
  • Select Beef: beef is uniform in quality, usually leaner than higher grades, fairly tender but with less marbling, and does not have the same flavour and juiciness as higher grades 
If you see meat with ink on it, don’t panic! The meat is physically graded with a roller mark using food-grade, vegetable-based ink which is safe and breaks down during the cooking process. The quality of the meat is shown on the carcass and stamped in letters in a certain colour depending on the age of the animal. The fat content is indicated by a square with a number inside and any damage of the carcass is indicated by 1,2, or 3.  If you have further queries about how meat is graded, specifically about how our products are graded, then our team will always be available to discuss this with you. Contact us today. 

Van Wyngaardt’s delivery policy

Our delivery policy requires a minimum order amount depending on the region. You may order from Monday to Thursday. Should you place an order before 12:00, we assure you of next-day delivery. If you order after 12:00, the order will be delivered to you the following working day. This is only valid for Gauteng stores. Outer Gauteng stores delivery period may vary. At Van Wyngaardt, we pride ourselves on always providing exceedingly good meats.

Should you have any queries or require more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, and one of our sales representatives will gladly assist you. 

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