The USDA meat charts are accurate. They are respected and regarded as symbols of safe high quality beef in America by markets, butchers, restaurants and the public.
The grades of beef are defined by the maturity of the beef and level of fat marbling throughout the meat. These are the two factors that indicate flavor and tenderness of the meat. There are eight different grades that are given to beef in the U.S.
Utility, Canner and Cutter are the three lowest grades and are used for processed and canned products. U.S. Standard and U.S. Commercial are the next two highest and are very low in fat content. These meats, when sold in stores, do not usually have the USDA shield and are sold under the store brand.
U.S. Select is the next highest and is widely available in markets. U.S. Choice is the next highest for flavor and tenderness and is also widely available in stores. The highest quality is U.S. Prime, which is only given to 2.9% of beef and is usually found in fine dining establishments.