About Canadian Beef Grades
The Canadian beef grade standards are set by the Federal Government based on recommendations from the Industry/Government Consultative Committee on Beef Grading.
The grading services for beef in Canada are provided by The Canadian Beef Grading Agency (CBGA). CBGA is a private, non-profit corporation and is accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Trained graders visually assess the whole carcass based on several criteria and assign a grade.
Canadian beef is generally divided into 5 major grades: Canada Prime, A, B, D, E (there is no C grade)
There are sub-levels grades under the 5 major grades. The CBGA officially lists 11 beef grades using the sub-levels grades (Note: A, AA, AAA are in the same sub-level). These are Canada Prime, Canada A (A, AA, AAA), B1, B2, B3, B4, D1, D2, D3, D4, E.
Here are highlight information about the five major Canadian beef grades:
Canada Prime grade is the highest grade of Canadian beef (it can be called as Canada's highest quality beef). Canada Prime beef indicates a slightly abundant marbling in the beef carcass. There is not much production of this grade of beef on the market. In 2017, Canada Prime grade beef was only 2.3%.
A Grades Grade A beef is of high quality, divided into three categories: A, AA, and AAA. According to the marbling in the meat, less is A, and more is AAA, but Grade A beef marbling significantly less than Canada Prime. In 2017, the Canada A, AA and AAA grades together represented 98% of all graded beef from fed slaughter cattle in Canada.
B Grades Grade B beef refers to beef from young cattle carcasses that has one or more factors that do not meet the quality requirements of the 'A' grades. In 2017, Grade B beef accounted for 1.9%. The beef in general fast food restaurants is generally from Grade B beef.
Since there is no Grade C beef, some people regard B4 sub-grade beef in Grade B as Grade C beef (Note: This has not been officially confirmed). This grade is characterized by beef with a higher pH content than typical grade beef, which is generally used for further processed products;
D Grades The main difference between D grades beef and B grades beef is that they are not from very young cattle carcasses, but mostly from cow casses. D Grades beef is mostly used in ground beef and other further processed products, it was represented 15.2% of the total graded cattle in Canada in 2017. D Grades beef may be used by some low-cost restaurants.
E Grades Most E-grade beef is reserved for mature bulls or youthful bull carcasses showing pronounced masculinity. E Grades beef represented 0.7% of the total graded cattle population in Canada in 2017, it mostly used in further processed products.
More detailed Canadian beef grade table can be consulted from the Canadian CBGA official website.