Canadian beef is unrivaled in culinary circles. The care and attention taken by Canadian cattle farmers has raised their status to world leaders in the field. With such high quality, it can be confusing to try and sort out the different qualities of beef. The following is a handy guide to explain the Canadian beef grades and what they mean to you.
More than 85% of beef raised in Canada falls under the high-quality classifications ranging from A to Prime. The beef in these grades is youthful and has a firm bright red rib-eye with 2 mm or more of fat. Marbling is the only category that differentiates the four high-quality grades and is defined as the quality of fat distribution throughout the cut of beef.
Prime grade beef features abundant marbling, its red meat laced with an even distribution of fat. The presence of this fat means a more tender and juicy cut of beef that should cook well in all conditions. Only 2% of graded beef is given Prime grade.
Unlike Prime, AAA-grade beef has only small amounts of visible marbling. Yet like Prime, the AAA grade is a very high-quality category that will provide a juicy, tender cut of beef that is resilient in a variety of cooking methods. Up to 50% of graded beef reaches AAA quality and status.
With only a slight amount of marbling, AA-grade beef is a slight step down from AAA-graded beef. Still, 45% of graded beef falls under the AA heading and it still can provide an excellent cooking and dining experience.
The lowest of the four high-quality grades, A-grade beef only consists of 3% of graded beef in Canada. Obviously still considered adequate enough to be listed as high quality, A-grade beef should be cooked a little more carefully for best results due to the less evenly distributed fat.
While beef grade labels make it clear to the naked eye, the actual differences in quality are usually only discernible by a practiced grader or butcher. So rely on D’Arcy’s for the best advice on what grade of beef is best for you and your family (and your budget). Contact us with any questions you might have about beef quality or the grading of any other meat we sell!