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USDA announces changes to beef grade standards

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced Dec. 5 that it is updating the voluntary U.S. Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef. USDA quality grades are used by companies to provide information to purchasers about meat’s tenderness, juiciness, and flavor and are a major factor in determining the value of beef and live cattle.

This update to the standards will provide companies using the USDA grading program with additional options—dentition or age documentation—to establish the maturity of animals and ensure that cattle 30 months old, or less, are included in the youngest maturity group recognized as “beef” (A maturity). Skeletal and muscular evidence will still be used to determine maturity for those animals over 30 months of age.

This change for voluntary beef grading activities will be implemented on Dec. 18.

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