Beef is given quality grades determined by the amount of marbling and the age of the animal, both of which affect the tenderness, juiciness and flavor of the meat. The USDA assigns three possible grades: Prime, Choice and Select. Prime meat has the most marbling (fat) within the meat, making it juicy and flavorful but also increasing its fat content (including saturated fat); Select has the least marbling; Choice is in the middle.
In the meat case, fresh beef should be bright red. Vacuum-packaged beef will be maroon because of the lack of oxygen. It should be firm to the touch with little to no excess moisture in the package and the packaging should be in good condition. Finally, be sure to check the "sell-by" date.
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