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Choice vs. Select Beef: What’s the difference?

Randy Perkins


Jan 18th, 2016

What the beef

You’re at the grocery store and it’s time to grab some meat for tonight’s dinner plans. You walk up to the meat department with a plethora of choices in front of you. As you browse over a few different beef options, you notice words such as “Choice” or “Select” on the packaging. What does this mean? It must be the same thing, right? It’s just a couple of fancy words, and all of the choices look delicious. 

Beef is graded based on taste, tenderness and safety. The overall quality is determined based on two prominent factors – the amount and dispersion of marbling and the age of the steer. Marbling is the amount of fat specs throughout the lean portions. This also determines the levels of juiciness and flavor, while the age of the meat is responsible for firmness, texture and color.

Read below about the difference between “Choice” and “Select,” so you can shop smarter.

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), beef grades are described as the following:

Choice beef is high quality and contains more marbling than Select. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy and flavorful. Choice beef is well suited for broiling, roasting or grilling. Less tender cuts are perfect for braising, roasting or simmering on the stove top with a small amount of liquid.

Select beef is uniform in quality and normally leaner than Choice. It is fairly tender, but because it has less marbling, it may not have as much juiciness or flavor. Select beef works well for marinating or braising.

Albertsons only carries the finest of USDA Choice products. Visit the Butcher Block for more information and give these recipes a try:

Red Wine and Mustard Sirloin with Artichokes and Potatoes



Big Beef and Bleu Cheese Salad with Red Onion Vinaigrette 



Lemon-Herb Beef Pot Roast



Killer Beef Chili


KillerBeefChiliSpeak with your local Albertsons’ butcher for guidance and assistance when selecting the best meat for your meal planning!

17 Responses to Choice vs. Select Beef: What’s the difference?

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  4. Robt 14/02/2016 at 2:54 pm

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    • Customer Support 23/02/2016 at 2:13 pm

      Hello, we suggest visiting the Butcher Block at your local store for more information. -Julio

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    • Customer Support 27/02/2016 at 3:43 pm

      Thank you for the kind and positive feedback, Dorine! We’re pleased to know you find this helpful. -Rebecca

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  9. SuperSafeway 14/02/2017 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks for clearing that up! I always wondered how the beef grading was done. Will share with our readers as well!

  10. Cheryl 18/03/2017 at 1:41 pm

    My question is where is your Signature brands meats coming from. ie where is it raised and why is the country of origin not on the label? I want to know where my beef is coming from. and where it has been fed and processed.

    • Customer Support 19/03/2017 at 3:00 pm

      Cheryl, all of our products are from the United States unless otherwise stated on the package. We hope this is helpful in addressing your concerns. -Julio

  11. Dorothy 29/03/2017 at 10:14 am

    Is this grain or grass fed???? We are farmers and raised our own for years, for only the truest and best, fall apart in your mouth meat. Today’s grass fed are tough. So Cheryl ask what it had been fed and you didn’t answer. What has it been fed????

    • Customer Support 29/03/2017 at 6:28 pm

      Dorothy, thanks for reaching out to us on this. The cows are fed grass and only grass. Use of the term “Grass Fed” on any label must comply with the requirements of the claim and its associated standards. If a product was labeled as “Grass Fed” without meeting the standards of the claim, it would be considered a labeling violation and the AMS-USDA would require its removal from commerce regardless of the origin. We hope this helps! -Julio

  12. Joyce Scott 24/12/2017 at 6:18 pm

    What is the little yellow thing that looks like a pop up you see in turkeys only this is yellow and turkey’s pop ups are red. It is some kind of a sensor.

    • Customer Support 26/12/2017 at 3:52 pm

      Hi Joyce! We believe the little yellow circle you are referring to is a little cup of oil. We hope this helps! Thank you! -Chris

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