Skip to main content

So you've ordered a never-been-frozen, AAA grade, sirloin-and-chuck burger. What exactly does that mean? We asked Susan Evans, trade communications manager for the Beef Information Centre, the market-development division of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

AAA grade: Canadian beef is graded to reflect the amount of fat marbling from A grade to prime. Since ground beef is typically categorized as "extra lean," or "lean," if you see AAA on a menu, the beef is probably source-ground. (See source-ground.)

Chuck: This cut comes from hard-working shoulder muscles. That makes it tougher, but it's considered one of the more flavourful cuts, with a rich, beefy taste.

Story continues below advertisement

Extra lean and lean: The beef contains no more than 10 per cent and 17 per cent fat, respectively. These are the best choices for health-conscious consumers and produce a denser burger.

Fresh: Freezing a patty causes moisture to collect on the surface area, which makes it dry out quickly and gives it a spongier texture. You want fresh.

Grass-fed versus grain-fed: The majority of cattle farmed in Canada are raised on pasture and finished in feedlots for 90 days. In Western Canada, cattle are typically fed barley, while in central Canada, they are fed corn. Both create more marbling, which gives the meat juiciness and flavour. Grass-fed beef, which is not finished, has less fat and is considered to have a distinctive taste.

Medium: The beef contains a maximum of 23-per-cent fat. This yields a juicy, flavourful burger.

Prime rib: From the sixth to 12th ribs of the cow, prime rib is tender and is heavily marbled.

Regular: The beef contains a maximum of 30-per-cent fat. Home grillers be warned: The higher fat content can cause grill flare-ups.

Sirloin: Located in the hindquarter of the animal, sirloin is tender and lean.

Story continues below advertisement

Source-ground: Source-ground beef comes from specific cuts. Chuck, sirloin and prime rib are the most popular. Each source-ground burger will have the qualities of the cut from which it came; a prime rib burger, for instance, will taste like a prime rib steak.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.