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Jul 24, 2011 11:29 AM

"Premium Choice" meat -- what does that mean?

I did some shopping today at my local Fresh Market. I bought a couple of nice-looking Porterhouse steaks that were tagged as "Premium Choice" in the meat counter. Does that designation mean something specific, or is it a description fabricated by the store to make shoppers think they're getting something better than just plain old choice?

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  1. I've not heard this one, but my money would be on it being a term made up by the seller or supplier. The USDA is the agency that grades beef, and they have no "premium" designation. That being said, some pieces of "choice" beef will be nicer than others. If the steaks looked well and evenly marbled, you did get a "premium" product, even if that designation has no official backing. Now, if they're charging more for products so labeled than they are for those with official USDA choice labeling, I'd be asking who makes the decision about what qualifies as "premium."

    1. Yes, it's code for "Premium Price"

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit

        You could say that about many (most) of the products sold at The Fresh Market.

      2. "Premium Choice" means whatever the retailer wants it to mean. Or less.

        1. it's the same as marking something, "Special". It means nothing. USDA grades are Prime, Choice, Select and Commercial. Most stores carry Select, better stores and Costco carry Choice. Angus is another scam. True Angus has to be designated by the Angus board and any meat processor pays for that. Your best bet is to find Choice. If you're in a high-end market, you might find Prime, but it is very expensive and not necessarily the best in the case.

          Bottom line. Ask the meat person what is the USDA grade.

          3 Replies
            1. re: robertesden

              Wow, really? I would like to find one near me that does. Haven't found it in CT or MA. Just choice. I would love a Prime Filet or Delmonico.

            2. The cynical view is that it means nothing, but what the supermarket presumably intends to suggest is that they're selling selected/better pieces of choice meat. Whether it's true or not, I don't know, nor whether it's worth any premium they might be charging for it, but given the overall vagueness of the basic grading system, there's a lot of variation within the basic grade levels so the concept isn't absurd.