Grading Certified Piedmontese Beef
American consumers are used to judging beef using
grades assigned by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. Those grades range from Standard to
Select, and from Choice to Prime, with Prime being a
nearly perfect cut of beef—one that’s tender, juicy,
Applying USDA Grades Can Be Misleading
Those grades are based mostly on the presence of
marbling (intramuscular fat) in the meat: in
general, the more fat, the higher the grade. The
grading system originated in the 1920s, when the
industry sought a consistent and effective way to
provide consumers with uniform indicators of beef
quality. Conventional beef typically contains a fair
degree of marbling, and that system has historically
proven a reasonably accurate indicator of
tenderness: After all, beef with more fat is
typically more tender than beef with less fat.
Of course, no grading system is perfect, and the
current system does not truly measure—or even
purport to measure—nutritional profile, actual
tenderness, or flavor. Mostly it measures fat.
But fat is not the only indicator of tenderness—lean
beef can be tender, juicy, and flavorful, as
independent studies have shown. One study from the
University of Nebraska reports that, while lean
Piedmontese beef was much lower in fat content than
the Angus beef samples to which it was compared, it
was nonetheless just as tender as the fattier beef.
At the same time, the Piedmontese was significantly
lower in cholesterol and calories than the USDA
average for Choice cuts.
Therein lies the true magic of Certified Piedmontese®
beef: With Certified Piedmontese, consumers enjoy
the tenderness and flavor of Choice or Prime beef,
but with the nutritional profile of grass-fed or
Select cuts. The result is that Certified
Piedmontese offers a healthier dining experience,
but one that’s just as flavorful as one might
experience with fattier beef.
Certified Piedmontese beef is unlike conventional
beef, so it’s difficult to apply typical USDA grades
to it: Naturally lean, tender, and delicious, it
does not require marbling (that is, fat) for flavor.
Instead of buying and ingesting fat, Certified
Piedmontese beef customers are paying for and
getting low-calorie, low-cholesterol beef that’s
better for them than other beef, but which is also
tender, juicy, and flavorful.