What’s Your Cut? Your Guide to Beef

August 21, 2021
By: Shawn Eakin

Have you ever been confused by a cut of beef? Well, you’re not alone… and we’re here to make it easier for you to understand! 

The USDA divides a cow
into eight regions – the eight main cuts of beef.
These are referred to as the primal or main cuts.

These are the eight primal cuts: 

  • Chuck
  • Rib
  • Loin
  • Round
  • Flank
  • Short Plate
  • Brisket 
  • Shank

According to the USDA, beef comes from cattle that are full grown and around two years old. Collectively, these cattle yield approximately 450 pounds of meat for human consumption. From the eight primal beef cuts there are many different minor beef cuts. These are known as subprimal cuts. Labels of retail beef often consist of this information. 

The most expensive beef cuts come from the center of the cow. The loin or rib sections are often the most tender part of a steer since it’s farthest away from the horn and hoof. Pricier beef cuts from these regions include porterhouse, rib eye, and filet mignon. 

Beef is graded by a third party organization or by a government agency, like the USDA in the United States. The grade is determined by examining the whole or split carcass. The age of the animal and the marbling of the meat is also taken into consideration. Consumer grades in the US are prime, choice, and select. Prime grade beef is harder to find and significantly more expensive. The lowest grade meats are not used for general retail distribution. 

When buying beef from your local grocery store make sure it is cold. If it is not cool to the touch, don’t buy it. Beef should be cold from the time it leaves the butcher until it is purchased. Look for a bright red to purplish-red color for your beef. Discoloration and brown spots are never a good sign. It seems obvious, but always be sure to purchase beef before it’s sell by date. Keep in mind fresh beef has less moisture in the packaging. Also, always look for consistent marbling. 


Enjoy your beef! 
-Revere Meat Co.