Halal Australian Full Blood 2GR Wagyu Sirloin Steak

The Essential Guide to Wagyu Beef Grades and BMS: What You Need to Know

May 05, 2024That Fat Cow

Wagyu beef, renowned globally for its unmatched marbling, tenderness, and exquisite flavours, stands as the epitome of premium steak grades, including the sought-after A5 Wagyu from Japan and luxurious Full Blood Australian Wagyu, Chilean Wagyu or British Wagyu options. This exceptional beef variety, produced by Wagyu cattle known for their resilient nature and superior meat qualities, offers a culinary experience elevated by its intense marbling and delicate texture, setting it apart from other grades of beef and making it a staple in premium dining experiences around the world.

Understanding Wagyu beef grades and the Beef Marbling Score (BMS) is crucial for enthusiasts looking to explore the rich flavours and textures that Wagyu has to offer, from USDA certified selections to Halal-certified choices catering to a diverse range of preferences. As this guide dives into the science of beef marbling, the significance of BMS, and how Wagyu compares to other beef varieties, readers will gain insights on choosing the right Wagyu beef grades for a truly unforgettable eating experience.

The Science of Beef Marbling

Genetics and Nutrition: The Foundations of Marbling

  1. Genetic Influence: The propensity for marbling in Wagyu beef is significantly influenced by the genetics of the cattle. Wagyu breeds are genetically predisposed to develop more marbling compared to other breeds, contributing to their renowned quality. Here at That Fat Cow, we scoured the world to find the best Halal Wagyu on offer - from Japanese A5, Full Blood Australian 2GR and crossbred Wagyu programmes from Chile, Australian and Britain.
  2. Nutritional Factors: The diet plays a crucial role in marbling development. Cattle fed on a specialised mix of grain, protein, and carbohydrates typically exhibit higher levels of intramuscular fat. This diet enhances the marbling characteristics that set Wagyu apart from less intensively managed breeds. Wagyu cattle tend to have a considerably longer feeding period, hence are far more expensive to raise. Japanese Wagyu tends to be fed for 600days+, Our Mollendo Halal Chilean Wagyu is fed for 400 days+, 2GR Halal Full Blood 400 days+ and British Halal Wagyu is fed for over 300 days.

Understanding Marbling: Composition and Impact

  1. Composition of Marbling: Marbling consists of unsaturated fats, including mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are considered healthier fat varieties. These fats contribute to the beef's flavor and tenderness when cooked, as they melt and imbue the meat with moisture and richness.
  2. Impact on Cooking and Flavour: The presence of marbling affects cooking by acting as an internal baster, keeping the meat moist and tender. This characteristic makes it harder to overcook the beef, preserving its juicy flavour and tender texture. Additionally, marbled meat contains oleic acid, which is known for its health benefits and is also found in olive oil.

Marbling and Beef Quality

  1. Beef Marbling Score (BMS): Wagyu beef is graded using the BMS, which assesses the amount and distribution of marbling within the muscle. Higher BMS scores are indicative of superior quality, manifesting in enhanced tenderness, juiciness, and flavour. A higher BMS also means that it's a rarer offering (Think top 0.5% of all Wagyu cattle for BMS 9+)
  2. USDA Grading: In the United States, the USDA grades beef based on marbling content, categorising it into grades such as Prime, Choice, and Select. Higher grades, which indicate more extensive marbling, are sought after for their superior culinary qualities. USDA Prime accounts for the top 2% of US beef production and has an equivalent BMS of 5.

Practical Tips for Handling Marbled Beef

  1. Preparation Tips: To maximise the benefits of marbling, it is recommended to allow the beef to reach room temperature before cooking and to use methods that preserve the integrity of the fat, such as pan frying instead of high-temperature grilling.
  2. Health Considerations: While marbling involves fat, the type of fat is crucial. The unsaturated fats in marbled Wagyu are part of a healthy diet, contrary to the saturated fats typically advised against in dietary guidelines.

Understanding BMS (Beef Marbling Score)

Wagyu beef is evaluated using the Beef Marbling Score (BMS), a system that quantifies the degree of marbling within the meat. This scoring system is crucial in determining the quality and value of Wagyu beef, with scores ranging from 1 to 12; higher scores signify a greater presence of marbling. The BMS not only influences the tenderness and juiciness of the meat but also enhances its flavour, making higher-scored Wagyu a sought-after delicacy.

Detailed Insights into BMS Ranges

  1. BMS 1-2: Represents minimal marbling. Suitable for those preferring leaner meat.
  2. BMS 3-5: Moderate marbling, offering a nice balance of flavour and tenderness, typical for everyday culinary use.
    Example of Dry Aged British Grass Fed Bone In Ribeye which is BMS 3:
    Halal Free Range Grass Fed Bone In Ribeye Côte

    Example of USDA Prime Ribeye which is BMS 5:
    usda beef uk
  3. BMS 6-8: High level of marbling, generally reserved for premium dining experiences and special occasions. Example of 2GR Full Blood 6-7 Ribeye:
    Australian Full Blood Wagyu Ribeye Steak BMS 6-7
  4. BMS 9-12: Exceptional marbling, exceptional indulgent, almost white with fat, providing an unparalleled taste and texture experience. Example of 2GR Full
    Blood Sirloin BMS 9+
    Australian Fullblood Wagyu Sirloin Steak BMS 9+

Global Standards and Differences

  • Japan: In Japan, the highest grade, A5, requires a BMS of 8 to 12. This grade is celebrated for its incredible tenderness and rich flavour. The 'A' refers to the yield of meat per carcass. 
  • Australia: Australian Wagyu grading ranges from 1 to 5, with the best grades showing a BMS of 8-9. This system aligns closely with the Japanese scale but caps at 9, with higher scores marked as 9+.
  • Chile: Chilean Wagyu follows the Japanese BMS scale closely, although the Chilean grading system does not fully accommodate for colour or carcass yield.
  • Britain: The UK has not officially adopted a grading system specifying marbling given how recent rearing Wagyu cattle in the UK is. Here at That Fat cow, we inspect all our loins and endeavour to supply the best of British Wagyu to our customers with a marbling that looks to be at least a BMS 5+.

Specialised Grading Techniques

To ensure accuracy in grading, the Australian Wagyu Association employs specialised cameras designed to quantify marbling percentage and fineness, a testament to the precision required in Wagyu beef grading. Similarly, in Japan, the Japanese Meat Grading Association (JMGA) meticulously assesses Wagyu carcasses not just for marbling but also for yield, colour, fat standards, and overall carcass weight.

This rigorous grading process underscores the importance of marbling in determining the quality of Wagyu beef, making the BMS a key indicator for both consumers and chefs when selecting Wagyu beef for its exceptional culinary qualities.

Comparing Wagyu and Other Beef Varieties

Wagyu vs. Other Beef Varieties: A Detailed Comparison

Marbling and Flavour Profiles

  1. Wagyu Beef: Known for its high marbling, Wagyu beef offers a unique 'melt in your mouth' sensation due to a lower melting point of the fat. This results in a rich, buttery flavour that is highly prized in culinary circles.
  2. Angus Beef: While Angus beef also exhibits good marbling, it is predominantly graded as Prime or Choice by the USDA, with its marbling not as extensive as Wagyu.
  3. Grain-fed Beef: Typically has a bolder, beefier flavour compared to grass-fed varieties and exhibits more marbling, though less than Wagyu.
  4. Grass-fed Beef: Known for a milder flavour and leaner profile, which contrasts with the richer and more marbled Wagyu and grain-fed beef.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Value

  • Wagyu beef not only excels in flavour but also offers health benefits due to a higher ratio of monounsaturated fats, Omega-3, and Omega-6 fatty acids, making it a healthier choice compared to other beef varieties.

Rarity and Availability

  • Kobe beef, a type of Wagyu from Japan's Hyogo prefecture, is particularly rare with only about 3,000 head of cattle qualifying as authentic Kobe annually. Halal Japanese wagyu is even rarer due to the limited number of Halal slaughter houses in Japan and the tightly controlled export quota. In 1997 Japan imposed a full ban on exporting Wagyu genetics and cattle..
  • Domestic British Wagyu is a fairly nascent programme with only a handful of farms rearing Wagyu. That Fat Cow is proud to be one of the very few offering Halal British Wagyu.
  • Australian Wagyu is far more prevalent having received its first Wagyu genetics in 1990 and it's first Full Blood cattle from Japan in 1997. We proudly stock Wagyu from the 2GR farm (100% pure Japanese DNA) and a selection of the higher crossbreeds.

Choosing the Right Marbling Score for Your Palate

Understanding the Wagyu Beef Grading System

The Wagyu beef grading system employs a combination of a letter and a number, such as A5, with a total of 15 types of combinations ranging from C1 to A5. The letter represents the yield score, describing the percentage of edible beef meat, while the number indicates the meat quality score, ranging from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest classification. This grading system, established by the Japanese government in 1961 through the creation of the Japan Meat Grading Association (JMGA), governs and establishes a method to define meat prices for distribution.

Selecting the Right Marbling Score for Your Needs

When selecting the ideal marbling score for your culinary preferences, consider the following guidelines:

  1. BMS 1-2: Optimal for dishes requiring lean meat, providing minimal marbling.
  2. BMS 3-5: Offers a moderate level of marbling, suitable for everyday culinary uses where a balance of flavour and tenderness is desired.
  3. BMS 6-8: High marbling level, ideal for premium dining experiences that demand tender, juicy, and flavourful meat.
  4. BMS 9-12: Exceptional marbling, providing an unparalleled taste and texture, typically reserved for special occasions.

Factors Influencing Meat Quality Scores

The meat quality score in the Wagyu grading system is determined by several factors, including:

  • BMS (Beef Marbling Standard): Assesses the amount and distribution of marbling within the meat.
  • BCS (Beef Colour Standard): Evaluates the colour of the meat.
  • BFS (Beef Fat Standard): Measures the quality of the fat.
  • Firmness and Texture: Assesses the meat's firmness and texture.

At That Fat Cow, these factors are visually assessed based on the appearance of the beef, as meat lovers we naturally try all of our steaks and only offer the steaks we are truly happy to deliver to our customers.


What does the BMS rating indicate in Wagyu beef?
The Beef Marbling Score (BMS) for Wagyu beef is a grading scale that ranges from 3 to 12. This scale measures the level of marbling within the meat, with 3 representing minimal marbling and 12 signifying the highest level of marbling, indicating a cut that is almost entirely composed of rich, intramuscular fat.

What are the key characteristics of Wagyu beef?
Wagyu beef is internationally celebrated for its superior quality, rich taste, and buttery texture. It must adhere to stringent grading standards set by the Japan Meat Grading Association. Wagyu beef is evaluated based on the yield of edible meat, categorised from A-class to C-class, and the quality of its marbled fat, which is scored from 1 to 5.

How is the BMS rating for beef determined?
The Beef Marbling Score (BMS) for beef is a grading system that assesses the quality of beef by evaluating the level of intramuscular fat. Scores range from 1 to 12, with 12 representing the highest possible grade. The BMS is ascertained by examining the ribeye muscle's cross-section between the 6th and 7th ribs.

What are the different grades of Wagyu beef?
Wagyu beef is categorised using a grade scale that combines a letter (A to C) and a number (1 to 5), with 'A' symbolising the highest yield of harvestable meat from the cattle and '5' indicating the highest quality of marbled fat. Grade 'A' is considered premium and is the most desirable, while grade 'B' is viewed as the standard.

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