Perhaps wagyu is the only type of meat that has its own grading system. The Wagyu grading system is basically designed to determine the quality of the meat. There are several factors to consider such as appearance and flavor. However, the most important factors are tenderness, color and fat to lean meat ratio.
The grading of Wagyu beef is currently handled by The Japanese Meat Grading Association. The reason behind this is that most of the Wagyu cattle are raised in Japan. The Wagyu beef grades are determined by the color of the fat, the color of the meat, and the marbling.
About Wagyu Beef
Wagyu is a Japanese cattle breed that is used for beef. It translates to Japanese cow. These cows were first used to help in agriculture and they were selected due to endurance and intra-muscular fat cells that have a ton of energy in them. Wagyu are horned and are either in black or red color.
In Japan, there are four breeds of cow that are considered to be Wagyu. These breeds are the Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn. The Japanese Polled and Shorthorn are bred specifically in Japan only.
The production of Wagyu is extremely regulated. A cow DNA test is conducted on mandatory basis. Only the cow with the top and improved genetics are used for breeding purposes.
Wagyu beef is highly marbled which is what makes the meat so delicious and tender. The best thing about wagyu is not only the taste, but the health benefits it provides. Experts have come to determine that wagyu beef has a very low impact on cholesterol as compared to other kinds of beef. The marbling is what makes it healthy for human health.
Grading Factors of Wagyu Beef
Ratio of Fat to Lean Meat
Marbling is what makes Wagyu taste as great as it does. Marbling in the meat means that the steak has very fine speckles of muscle. When it is cooked, this muscle melts and dissolves which adds up even more flavor and tenderness to the meat.
Color of the Fat
Another important thing that is considered when grading the meat is the color of the fat. The lighter and the shinier the fat, the more tender the meat will be. The meat will melt in your mouth if it has the highest quality of fat.
Firmness of the Meat
The meat needs to be firm and still tender. The perfect amount of firmness is what will keep the meat from falling apart when cooked. Also, this is what will keep the meat from being too chewy. If the meat is chewy, it will not be a good experience to eat.
Grading of Japanese Wagyu Beef
The Japanese beef grading system is rated on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is the lowest and 5 being the highest. The beef is given quality scores which range from 1 to 12. The quality scores depend on the different characteristics discussed above.
Like mentioned earlier, Wagyu beef is rated on the quality which is what determines its final grade. The quality grade depends on marbling, coloring, texture and fat content. The color and the fat content range from 1 to 7 which determines its quality. The texture determines the firmness of the meat.
Wagyu Beef Grades
Final Grade 1
To get a final grade of 1, the Wagyu beef will have to be of a quality of 1. Grade 1 beef will not have any marbling at all. The color of the meat will be one that is not even on the scale. The texture will be coarse because the meat is not very firm. Lastly, the fat content of grade 1 is not even measurable on the scale.
Final Grade 2
Grade 2 features very little marbling. The color of the meat of grade 2 can range anywhere between 1 to 7 which is pretty close to standard. Even the texture is close to standard. The fat content of grade 2 ranges from 1 to 7 which also brings it close to standard.
Final Grade 3
Grade 3 will have more marbling as compared to 2. The color of the meat will range from 1 to 6 which is more on standard. The texture is also considered to be standard. The fat content will range somewhere from 1 to 6 which is also standard.
Final Grade 4
Grade 4 will have less marbling than grade 5, depending on the quality rating of the meat. The meat color is 2 to 6 which is good. The texture is good because it is firm. The fat content is also good which will range from 1 to 5.
Final Grade 5
The wagyu beef will score a 5 if it has a quality between 8 to 12. A quality score will have the most marbling. The highest quality grade 5 Wagyu will range from 3 to 5 in color which is excellent. The texture is also excellent and the fat content is also considered to be excellent.
Letter grading refers to yield grade not quality grade. The yield grade focuses more to the curability of the beef
A Wagyu steak with a higher yield of quality meat will be an A grade meat and has 72% or even higher yield. A grade B will have 69% or more and a grade C will have under a 69% yield rate.
After the yield is determined, the letter grade is then combined with the final grade to get A1-A5, B1-B5, C1-C5. A5 is considered the best meat and C1 is the worst.
The upbringing and selection of Wagyu beef takes a lot of time, care, and thinking. The purpose is to produce the highest quality meat possible so that the Wagyu grading system can appropriately grade it.
A rating of 1 represents the lowest score while a rating of 5 represents the highest score. Meat quality is graded from 1 to 12, with 1 being the lowest and 12 being the highest. When it comes to A, B, and C, A is the best and C is the worst.
Learn more about Wagyu in this blog by The Fat Cow, or order different grades of beef online!