There are a lot of different cuts of beef, and for Pete’s sake, how are you supposed to remember them all? It seems almost impossible, since there are 60 different beef cuts.
Before there was Don Draper, fanciful names for beef cuts were conceived for sales promotions by grocery stores and restaurants. And while these names may have been glamorous, they are another reason why there are so many nicknames for a single cut of beef, which can be really confusing.
So, the industry decided to establish a program, a (jedi) master list. The Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards (URMIS) was developed to simplify and standardize all the perplexing cuts and names.
Ever heard of a “Honey Cut”? Yeah, us either. That’s because URMIS, which was adopted by the meat and retail industry, dropped names that failed to provide clear identification in favor of more common names. (BTW, a Honey Cut is an unapproved name for a Beef Chuck Shoulder Roast.)
That’s why the system is useful, because by establishing a method for names, we get to better understand how to read a label using terms that are easier to understand.
Understanding Beef Labels and Names
The basic nomenclature used on the label for every cut is the same, and tells us at a glance exactly what’s in the package. Here’s a quick way to read it:
- The cut characteristics:
- The species, or kind of meat. If you are reading this, that’s Beef (but it could be also be Veal, Lamb or Pork).
- The primal cut, that is Chuck, Rib, Loin, Round, Sirloin, Flank, Plate, and Shank. There are 8, and that’s it! (Read more about primals here.)
- The bone state, and there are only two options: bone-in or boneless.
- A name of the retail cut, or product you are buying. This could be steaks, roasts, diced or ground meat.
Next time you are at the grocery store, see if you can spot this info on your package!
You might also see some claims like “organic” or “grass fed” on your beef labels. Our glossary of beef terminology can help you understand the different beef claims and grades. We’ve also created a guide to shop for beef like a pro.