Angus beef is a mainstay at restaurants and markets across the United States today, and that’s due, in large part, to the success of the Certified Angus Beef ® brand. But it’s important to understand the many differences.

The Certified Angus Beef ® brand Angus beef
A brand of beef that starts with Angus cattle Angus is a breed of black cattle, not a brand or quality specification unto itself
Meets 10 strict quality standards (see list below) No quality requirements other than identification as Angus
Standards are more stringent than USDA Select, Choice and Prime grades Other Angus labels may require their own standards, or none at all
Requires marbling equal to the best USDA Choice, or USDA Prime beef May represent any USDA grade, or none at all
Only 3 in 10 Angus cattle meet the brand’s high standards Angus beef not meeting our standards may be marketed as other brands
The original brand of premium beef, available since 1978 More than 100 copycat programs are on the market today
Offers unparalleled product tracking, from harvest to table, to ensure integrity No requirement

Our Angus heritage is important to us, because the family farmer and rancher members of the American Angus Association® actually own the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, and created the vision for our high-quality beef 45 years ago. Angus cattle, however, known for their potential to produce high quality beef as well as their typically black hair and characteristic body shape, are just the starting point.

10 exacting quality standards
The Certified Angus Beef ® brand relies on a set of 10 specifications to ensure consistent quality. These measures are evaluated by independent U.S. Department of Agriculture graders at the same time they evaluate beef for voluntary USDA grades. (All U.S. beef is inspected for wholesomeness and safety.) The brand’s specifications were developed to ensure consistency, flavor, tenderness and appearance – all important factors in delivering on the brand’s promise of quality.

Marbling and Maturity
1. Modest or higher marbling – for the taste that ensures consumer satisfaction
2. Medium to fine marbling texture – the white “flecks of flavor” in the beef that ensure consistent flavor and juiciness in every bite
3. Only cattle harvested less than 30 months of age by dentition and only A-maturity lean – for superior color, texture and tenderness

Consistent Sizing
4. 10- to 16-square-inch ribeye area*
5. 1,100-pound hot carcass weight or less
6. 1-inch or less fat thickness

Quality Appearance and Tenderness
7. Superior muscling – limits light-muscled cattle
8. Practically free of capillary rupture – ensures the most visually appealing steak
9. No dark cutters – ensures the most visually appealing steak
10. No neck hump exceeding 2 inches – safeguards against cattle with more variability in tenderness

*A 19-square-inch maximum for certain cuts offers you greater access to flavorful tenderloin, brisket, chuck and round cuts in the meat case and at restaurants.

Comparison to USDA grades
While there is some overlap between USDA grades of beef and the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, there are some significant differences, as well. Our standards have always ensured a superior eating experience that goes beyond the USDA grade.

The USDA grades most commonly marketed are Prime (the very best), then Choice, then Select. These classifications are primarily based on the amount of marbling: the small white flecks of fat that melt during cooking and impart flavor and juiciness.

The Certified Angus Beef ® brand, however, requires at least as much marbling as the best Choice or Prime, plus several other markers of consistent quality. It’s this assurance that puts our product a cut above these grades.

Grading chart