What is Marbling
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Marbling refers to the intra-muscular fat in cuts of meat. The marbling is different from  the fat external to the meat which can also be called a Lip or Seam, or the “Trim,” that is either retained as Suet or removed during butchering as a waste product.

Beef cuts with high levels of marbling are more likely to be tender, juicy and flavorful than cuts with low levels of marbling. The USDA uses marbling, (the amount and distribution of intramuscular fat within the Rib Eye at the 12th rib cross-section), within a maturity group, as one of its main determinants in assigning a grade to USDA Graded Beef. Studies suggest that beef from carcasses grading at least USDA Select is likely to be acceptable in eating quality for most consumers.

Despite our health concerns about fat, we need to remember that there are a number of Fat-Soluble Vitamins contained in meat fats and that fat (the internal marbled fat not the trim) contribute greatly to the flavor of various meats. Consumers are encouraging the meat industry to provide leaner cuts of meat but not many voices are speaking out about the reduction in flavor and degraded “Mouth Feel” of the leaner cuts.  The Meat Grading System is designed to assign well marbled meat a higher grade though ranchers are experimenting with crossbreeding to yield more flavorful leaner beef. Until they get it right, Smart Kitchen advises to consume meat in moderation but to seek out some marbling to enhance the experience when you do eat meat. Within a maturity group, marbling (the amount and distribution of intramuscular fat) within the ribeye is the primary determinant of USDA Quality Grade. Visual evaluations of marbling in the ribeye (at the 12th rib cross-section) are related to differences in eating quality of beef. Beef cuts with high levels of marbling are more likely to be tender, juicy and flavorful than cuts with low levels of marbling. Studies suggest that beef from carcasses grading at least USDA Select is likely to be acceptable in eating quality for most consumers.