Food & Drink

Explain like I am a 5th grader: What is the difference between ungraded beef and grade A

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[OP]
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May 30, 2010
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Explain like I am a 5th grader: What is the difference between ungraded beef and grade A

As the title state, is there a difference? Grade A / AA /AAA pertains to marbling only or are there other factors at play?

Thanks
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Jul 25, 2018
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My non-expert opinion of AA vs. AAA is that the former is chewy and tough whereas the latter isn't. I've bought AA beef at No Frills on sale and it's terrible as a steak. I'd use AA or other cheap cuts for stew no problem though.
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@death_hawk knows this in detail.
I think he said its for marketing purposes (not to say grading is a “scam”) its just a service you pay for so its more marketable. E.g. an ungraded cut can still be of AAA quality. They just don’t pay for the grading to be marketed as such.

Correct me if i’m wrong!
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Nov 22, 2015
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JoelK22976 wrote: My non-expert opinion of AA vs. AAA is that the former is chewy and tough whereas the latter isn't. I've bought AA beef at No Frills on sale and it's terrible as a steak. I'd use AA or other cheap cuts for stew no problem though.
Too general IMO. AA ribeye is just fine... whereas AA sirloin tip is dry AF. Depends on the cut.
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Nov 22, 2015
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UrbanPoet wrote: @death_hawk knows this in detail.
I think he said its for marketing purposes (not to say grading is a “scam”) its just a service you pay for so its more marketable. E.g. an ungraded cut can still be of AAA quality. They just don’t pay for the grading to be marketed as such.

Correct me if i’m wrong!
Ungraded, yes - that is if you're buying from a local farm or farmer's market... you might also be getting scammed though
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Nov 15, 2008
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JoelK22976 wrote: My non-expert opinion of AA vs. AAA is that the former is chewy and tough whereas the latter isn't. I've bought AA beef at No Frills on sale and it's terrible as a steak. I'd use AA or other cheap cuts for stew no problem though.
For stew you go by cut not grade, e.g., you generally wouldn't stew anything that came from the loin, no matter the grade.
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Nov 15, 2008
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UrbanPoet wrote: @death_hawk knows this in detail.
I think he said its for marketing purposes (not to say grading is a “scam”) its just a service you pay for so its more marketable. E.g. an ungraded cut can still be of AAA quality. They just don’t pay for the grading to be marketed as such.

Correct me if i’m wrong!
Pretty well all Canadian beef is graded because that's how they assess the value of the carcass and figure out what to pay the producer. If a producer forgoes grading, they will have to accept the basement price for their beef.

It's imported beef that is often ungraded. Beef from the US will carry a US grade but not a Canadian one. Beef from e.g., Brazil will never be assessed a Canadian grade and may not have a grade from that country either. Foreign mystery meat.
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Aug 22, 2006
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lecale wrote:
For stew you go by cut not grade, e.g., you generally wouldn't stew anything that came from the loin, no matter the grade.
To be fair, you also shouldn't buy "stew meat" which is generally round.
Buy a shoulder. It's got the connective tissue, fat, and flavor you want.
lecale wrote:
Pretty well all Canadian beef is graded because that's how they assess the value of the carcass and figure out what to pay the producer. If a producer forgoes grading, they will have to accept the basement price for their beef.
Technically true, but it is still voluntary. There's nothing that says I HAVE to grade my meat. But as you said, I'm getting peanuts for it.
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my0gr81 wrote: Grade A / AA /AAA pertains to marbling only or are there other factors at play?
Marbling does have a large role, but there are a bunch of other things that grading covers including age of animals, color of fats, and a few other criteria.
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death_hawk wrote: Marbling does have a large role, but there are a bunch of other things that grading covers including age of animals, color of fats, and a few other criteria.
If you expand the scope to all grades Prime to E, then there are other criteria that vary, but for A/AA/AAA/Prime the only differential between them is marbling.
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Aug 22, 2006
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lecale wrote: If you expand the scope to all grades Prime to E, then there are other criteria that vary, but for A/AA/AAA/Prime the only differential between them is marbling.
Sure, but they still have to be from "youthful cows" which I count. An older cow for example isn't getting even A.
But looking strictly at the difference between the listed grades? Yeah it's marbling.
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I find it interesting that what ppl buy has a lot to do with personal preferences. IE there are ppl who don't like fat and they think and will buy the leaner steak vs a well marbled steak. They might look at a steak and actually prefer the A grade vs the AAA grade. Myself, I don't look at the label per se. I just judge the steak based on what I see, if it's well marbled, I'm generally happy and gonna buy it.

There are a number of threads on here in the past where ppl will say AA - No thanks. I might point out that it says AA or better...and they might still say no thanks. I just say go to the store and look at what's on offer. If it looks good buy it, if you don't like it, don't buy it.

Re OLD COW, I wish they stated age because I've on occasion bought ox tail and I'd pressure cook it over and hour and it'd still be tough, so I'd keep cooking it and it'd still be tough. At which time, I say, I just made ox tail stock.
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
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gr8dlr wrote: I find it interesting that what ppl buy has a lot to do with personal preferences. IE there are ppl who don't like fat and they think and will buy the leaner steak vs a well marbled steak. They might look at a steak and actually prefer the A grade vs the AAA grade. Myself, I don't look at the label per se. I just judge the steak based on what I see, if it's well marbled, I'm generally happy and gonna buy it.

There are a number of threads on here in the past where ppl will say AA - No thanks. I might point out that it says AA or better...and they might still say no thanks. I just say go to the store and look at what's on offer. If it looks good buy it, if you don't like it, don't buy it.

Re OLD COW, I wish they stated age because I've on occasion bought ox tail and I'd pressure cook it over and hour and it'd still be tough, so I'd keep cooking it and it'd still be tough. At which time, I say, I just made ox tail stock.
Only D grade beef is old cow. Maybe releasing the pressure too quickly?

I agree that the supermarket grades aren't too meaningful. Almost everything is AA, AA or higher, or AAA. None of that is poor grade.
[OP]
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May 30, 2010
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Thank you. A co-worker suggested to buy the ungraded striploin primal from the Costco business center and break it down. I have bought their AAA primal before, specially when it's on sale, with good results. Well, after cutting and trimming a roast, 4 steaks, 3 packages of beef cubes and a fondue bourgignon meal for two to enjoy last night. We ended up having to go out for dinner. The meat was tough and stringy. Now I have all the other trims in the freezer and don't know what we will do with it as I know the SO won't touch it. What a waste.
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May 28, 2012
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my0gr81 wrote: Thank you. A co-worker suggested to buy the ungraded striploin primal from the Costco business center and break it down. I have bought their AAA primal before, specially when it's on sale, with good results. Well, after cutting and trimming a roast, 4 steaks, 3 packages of beef cubes and a fondue bourgignon meal for two to enjoy last night. We ended up having to go out for dinner. The meat was tough and stringy. Now I have all the other trims in the freezer and don't know what we will do with it as I know the SO won't touch it. What a waste.
If it's Costco, couldn't you return it for a refund? We don't have a Costco Business Centre in our province, so don't know if it's the same rules as a regular Costco.

I bought the cryovac'd tenderloin from Wholesale Club once, I guess that was "ungraded"...it was tough and had a weird taste.
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Mars2012 wrote: If it's Costco, couldn't you return it for a refund? We don't have a Costco Business Centre in our province, so don't know if it's the same rules as a regular Costco.

I bought the cryovac'd tenderloin from Wholesale Club once, I guess that was "ungraded"...it was tough and had a weird taste.
Yeah, it's Costco with the same return policy as the Warehouse. No way, I am waiting in line to return cut and opened food. Technically, it wasn't bad per se, just a bad purchase from my side. It's all neatly vacuum sealed and frozen though. I will ask my co-worker if he wants it.

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