I suppose to the average biggame hunter this message is of little importance since we already harvest our own prime meat, but....... Has anyone else out there noticed this new phenomenon latley? - USDA Prime grade beef being available at the retail grocery level? Been seeing this more and more lately at Costco and other retailers within the last year or so, even if it is in small qualities. I was skeptical at first. So I talked to my uncle who worked for 40 years as a professional butcher/meat cutter for King Soopers (back in the days when they actually employed real meat cutters at each store). He said that if a retailer is labling a tray of beef as a certain USDA grade, then it has to be that grade being advertised. He said the USDA doesn't mess around when it comes to beef, and if a butcher mislables something (even % lean of ground beef) that store can have all it's beef products taken away and disposed of by the health department and USDA. He said if a large place like Costco is advertising some beef as USDA Prime then it has to be Prime. I'm not so skeptical now, especially after grilling some up.
I read an article about it recently that put it into perspective. Most fancy hotel and steak houses have traditionally gotten first dibs on cuts of USDA Prime grade beef, buying up nearly all the supply and leaving very little for the retailers. These fine establishments have now been impacted by the economy because most of them exist mainly on income from expense accounts so they are now serving less Prime grade steaks. The cattle ranchers have been increasing their herds over the last several years and regardless they still have to sell their beef. That's leaving more USDA Prime grades available to the retailer level. That's why we're seeing it. Just thought you'd all like to know if you're into that sort of thing.