Wagyu Beef: Understanding the Grades

Wagyu Beef

Do you want to savor the delectable taste of Wagyu beef but find the grading system confusing? You’re not alone! Understanding the Wagyu beef grading scale can be challenging if you’re new to it. But worry not! Hook’d Up Bar and Grill is here to help you navigate through it, ensuring that you get the best value for your money.

How Does Wagyu Grading Work?

The grading system for Wagyu beef varies slightly depending on the country and the overseeing organization. However, the desired qualities in this type of beef remain consistent across organizations, even with their different grading methods. Exceptional quality, appearance, and flavor are the common factors taken seriously when grading Wagyu steak.

Japanese Beef Grading System

The grading of Wagyu beef is overseen by the Japanese Meat Grading Association (JMGA), similar to how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees beef grading in the United States. Just as the USDA ensures that beef meets the expectations of American consumers, the JMGA grades Wagyu beef based on factors such as fat color, meat color, ribeye shape and size, and IMF% (marbling).

In the Japanese beef grading system, Wagyu beef is given a grade from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Quality scores range from 1 to 12, encompassing factors like marbling and coloring. The final Wagyu grade, from 1 to 5, is determined by the quality score as follows:

  1. Poor (Quality score of 1)
  2. Below Average (Quality score of 2)
  3. Average (Quality score of 3 or 4)
  4. Good (Quality score of 5 to 7)
  5. Excellent (Quality score of 8 to 12)
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Therefore, Wagyu beef with a grade of 12 is considered the pinnacle of quality, offering the highest score in both quality and Wagyu rating.

You may come across the term “Japanese Wagyu A5,” but what does it mean? This grade represents the highest attainable grade for Wagyu beef. It is typically reserved for cattle that receive the best care and are fed a superior diet, including corn and grain.

The “A” specifically refers to the yield grade, which is different from the quality grade. The yield grade indicates the cutability of the Wagyu beef, with a higher percentage of quality meat resulting in an A grade. Grade A is assigned to cuts with a 72% or higher yield percentage, while B and C grades denote lower percentages.

Australian Grading System

The Australian grading system for Wagyu is similar to the Japanese system. However, the Australian system only grades up to 9, unlike the Japanese system’s range of 1 to 12. The required quality scores to achieve a grade from 1 to 5 remain the same, but the Excellent rating is reserved for scores of 8 and 9. Grade A5 meat in Australia is very much comparable to an A5 score given to Wagyu in Japan.

USDA Grading System

Although there are not many Wagyu cattle raised in the United States, their meat is held to the same standards as Japanese or Australian Wagyu. The USDA employs a grading system that focuses on three important designations: Select, Choice, and Prime. Wagyu beef typically falls under the Prime category, characterized by abundant marbling, optimal coloring and appearance, and low carcass maturity. In the Japanese grading system, Grade 12 Kobe beef would correspond to a Prime designation in the USDA grading system.

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Conclusion: Your Guide to Wagyu Beef Grades

In conclusion, we hope this comprehensive guide has helped you understand the grading system associated with Wagyu beef. Now, when you come across those numbers, letters, or words on your steak, you’ll know exactly what they mean. For further exploration of Wagyu and Kobe beef, visit Hook’d Up Bar and Grill, your ultimate resource for finding the perfect steak, distinguishing between the two types, and mastering the art of cooking them. Enjoy!

Wagyu Beef Grading System FAQs