Quick, what are the retail USDA beef grades? If you said U.S. Prime, U.S. Choice and U.S. Select, you're right. U.S. Prime is the juiciest but also has the most fat. U.S. Select is the leanest but also often the toughest.
Now there's another designation, though not perhaps actually a grade. It's USDA Very Tender and the Harris Teeter chain is currently introducing it in its stores. It will include such cuts as rib eye, strip loin, short loin, tenderloin and top blade.
“We are going above and beyond the norm to give our shoppers another measure of confidence they deserve when purchasing quality beef products,” said Harris Teeter spokeswoman Danna Jones says. “Our hope is that this label will help eliminate confusion at the meat case.”
Cargill Meat Solutions supplies Harris Teeter’s private-label Reserve Angus Beef. Cargill was the first meat processor to have its "guaranteed tender" program certified by the USDA. That program requires certain processes and standards tied to production, Harris Teeter said.
Cargill first introduced the "tender" beef in Colorado in 2012, selling it in Safeway stores throughout the state. It said then that the cuts were cured a minimum of 14 days.
Cargill said in 2013 that Cargill it had "aggressively conducted tenderness testing since 2000, focused on providing consumers with a consistently tender eating experience that translates into increased beef demand."
“We know that beef attributes such as tenderness, flavor and juiciness are important to consumers and the long-term health of the American beef industry hinges on our ability to consistently deliver the best possible beef eating experience,” said John Keating, president of Wichita-based Cargill Beef.
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