what it all means

age, grade & class

What makes Class A beef better than Class C beef? It's all in the age of the animal.

The way in which beef is classed differs from country to country which may be why many consumers are unsure of what it all means. For instance, US beef is classified according to how much intra-muscular fat is present (marbling) and animal maturity, while most European countries grade according to weight and animal category. In South Africa, age is the main distinguishing factor when it comes to class. So, how does it work?

Classification

how is red meat classified?

In most instances, age, grade and class, mean one in the same. The age of the animal will determine its classification. There are further criteria that can affect the classification of beef, including the gender, amount of fat on the animal and whether the carcass has been damaged or not.

 

While age is a major determining factor in terms of quality, what the animal is fed can have a large effect on the taste, tenderness and texture of the final product. The ageing and maturing of the meat also has a significant influence on tenderness and beef cut from older animals will typically be aged for a longer period of time as this helps soften the meat.

Age

how is it determined?

The age of an animal has a significant effect on the quality of the meat. The younger the animal, the more tender and juicy it will be. Age is determined by the amount of permanent incisors the animal has when it is slaughtered and is marked accordingly.

 

Here’s how the different grades of meat are marked according to the specifications set out by the South African Meat Industry Company (SAMIC):

Age Class A: 0 permanent incisors, will be roller-marked in purple with ‘AAA’.

Age Class AB: 1 ≤ 2 permanent incisors, will be roller-marked in green with ‘ABAB’.

Age Class B: 3 ≤ 6 permanent incisors, will be roller-marked in orange with ‘BBB’.

Age Class C: 6 < permanent incisors, will be roller-marked in red with ‘CCC’

check it out

what to look out for when buying your beef

It is often difficult to see the markings in pre-packaged beef and most packaging will not explicitly specify the class of meat you are purchasing. It’s always best to ask your butcher if you are unsure.

Beefcor currently produces Class A and Class C grain-fed beef.