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The USDA has set standards or a “grading system” which classifies meat into particular groups or grades. beef steaks are placed in groups depending upon its juiciness, flavor and tenderness. These factors are based on the marbling (or fat) that is in the muscle tissue, as well as the age of the animal.
Prime: This meat is the most tender and juicy. This beef will have more marbling than other grades. This grade of meat is generally found in restaurants, specialty markets and hotels.
Choice and Select: These meats are generally found in supermarkets. These grades of meat are a step down from USDA Prime cuts of meat.
Standard and Commercial: These meats are what you buy in your grocery store that has the store's label or “brand name.” These factors are based on the marbling (or fat) that is in the muscle tissue, as well as the age of the animal.