Grade B Poultry
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Grade B Poultry are less meaty and less well finished. Grade B Chicken is not frequently seen in the butcher or grocer’s meat case.

Poultry Grading is a voluntary, fee-based system whereby poultry producers can have their product graded by a Federal Inspector. Grade B Poultry is the second best quality of Poultry. It is often less meaty and more poorly finished than Grade A Poultry with more exposed meat and more residual feathers. Grade B Poultry is typically found in processed meat items or in prepared or frozen foods.


Specifically, according to the USDA, Grade B Poultry will be judged on its conformation, fleshing, fat covering, de-feathering, broken or disjointed bones and amount of exposed flesh.

  • Conformation: The carcass or part may have moderate deformities, such as a dented, curved, or crooked breast, crooked back or misshapen legs or wings, which do not materially affect the distribution of flesh or the appearance of the carcass or part. 
  •  Fleshing (plumpness): The carcass has a moderate covering of flesh considering the kind, class, and part.  The breast has a substantial covering of flesh with the flesh carrying up to the crest of the breastbone sufficiently to prevent a thin appearance.  The leg is fairly thick and wide at the knee and hip joint area, and has sufficient flesh to prevent a thin appearance.  The drumstick has a sufficient amount of flesh to prevent a thin appearance with the flesh carrying fairly well down toward the hock.  The thigh has a sufficient amount of flesh to prevent a thin appearance.   The wing has a sufficient amount of flesh to prevent a thin appearance. 
  • Fat Covering: The carcass or part has sufficient fat in the skin to prevent a distinct appearance of the flesh through the skin, especially on the breast and legs. 
  • De-feathering: The carcass or part may have a few scattered protruding feathers and hairs. Hair or down is permitted on the carcass or part, provided the hair or down is less than 3/16-inch in length, and is scattered so that the carcass or part has a clean appearance, especially on the breast and legs.
  • Exposed flesh: A carcass may have exposed flesh provided that no part on the carcass has more than one-third of the flesh exposed.  A part may have no more than one-third of the flesh normally covered by skin exposed. 
  • Disjointed and broken bones, missing parts, and trimming: Parts may be disjointed, but are free of broken bones.  The carcass may have two disjointed bones, or one disjointed bone and one non-protruding broken bone. Parts of the wing beyond the second joint may be removed at a joint. The tail may be removed at the base.  Slight trimming of the carcass is permitted provided the meat yield of any part on the carcass is not appreciably affected.  A moderate amount of meat may be trimmed around the edge of a part to remove defects.  The back may be trimmed in an area not wider than the base of the tail to the area halfway between the base of the tail and the hip joints.
  • Discolorations of the skin and flesh: Discolorations are limited to moderately shaded areas, and the carcass or part should be free of serious defects.  There should be no more than slight evidence of incomplete bleeding.  Discolorations due to flesh bruising shall be free of clots and may not exceed one-half the total aggregate area of permitted discoloration.
  • Freezing Defects: With respect to consumer packaged poultry, parts or specified poultry food products, the carcass, part or specified poultry food product may have moderate defects which result from handling or occur during freezing or storage.  The skin and flesh shall have a sound appearance, but may lack brightness.  The carcass or part may have a few pockmarks due to drying of the inner layer of skin (derma).  However, no single area of overlapping pockmarks may exceed that of a circle 1/2-inch in diameter.  Moderate areas showing layers of clear pinkish or reddish colored ice are permitted.
  • Backs: Grade B quality backs shall meet all applicable provisions of this section pertaining to parts, and shall include either the meat contained on the ilium (oyster) and meat and skin from the pelvic bones or the vertebral ribs and scapula with meat and skin.

Source: USDA’s United States Classes and Grades for Poultry. The link goes off the Smart Kitchen site to the USDA website.

Culinary Uses

Grade B Poultry is seen most often in processed meat products and/or frozen and pre-made products.