Beyond USDA Grading - Quality in the breed, not the marbling.
When it comes to ranking beef quality, the industry relies on three words: Prime, Choice, or Select.
But these words, and the USDA Beef Grading system that created them, are limiting; they don’t account for a unique breed like Piedmontese, nor the diligent, farm-to-fork approach of the Certified Piedmontese® program.
USDA BEEF GRADING
USDA Beef Grading is an integral part of the beef industry, providing a standard method of marketing that lets consumers purchase beef products based on quality standards
set by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and the AMS (Agricultural
Marketing Service). The quality grading predicts the overall eating experience of beef when cooked, and it relies on two points: the overall maturity of the carcass, and the amount of marbling present in the ribeye of the carcass. A higher quality grade means beef with a greater amount of marbling, which, according to the scale, makes it more likely to be tender, juicy, and flavorful when cooked. In other words, USDA grades don’t measure the actual tenderness of beef, but rather the amount of marbling present in the carcass.
ABOVE THE GRADE
It’s a helpful system—that is, if you’re dealing with standard breeds of cattle. But the
Piedmontese breed is anything but standard. You can tell it’s different by simply looking
at it: Certified Piedmontese appears to have less fatty marbling because it does. It’s a rare
and unique breed with a unique muscle makeup that produces unrivaled tenderness
without excess fat. Quite simply, Piedmontese beef is unlike conventional beef because
Piedmontese cattle are unlike conventional cattle, which is why it’s difficult to apply
USDA grades in the first place. The way Certified Piedmontese cattle are raised is different, too. They spend the majority of their lives on open rangelands, feeding on native grasses and crops tended by the ranchers who care for them. The Certified Piedmontese program is based on the close and continuous study of the Piedmontese breed and the careful alignment of a nutrition
regimen that meets the animals’ distinct dietary needs in order to yield truly superior
beef, instead of just fattier beef that’s perceived as higher value because it grades higher.
To solidify the integrity of the Certified Piedmontese program, each animal is DNA
tested by an independent lab to ensure the presence of the inactive myostatin gene
unique to Piedmontese cattle. The analysis confirms the genetic composition of each animal and makes certain the unique genes of the breed are present. The result? A unique, exceptional beef that dispels the notion that fat alone equals tenderness.