Beef is a very difficult commodity to grade. Absolute exactness is impossible. This is due partly to the fact that each individual carcass differs somewhat from every other carcass ; hence no given carcass can be taken as a sample exactly typical of a large number. Furthermore, meat is extremely perishable, which makes both quick handling and a minimum of handling highly essential.

Another difficulty lies in the fact that there are practically no mechanical devices to aid the grader. The only device of this kind which can be used readily is the scales, and the system of grading described herein disregards weight in determining both class and grade. Certain subclasses, it is true, are based on weight, but these are of relatively little consequence compared with the main series of classes and grades. The beef grader, therefore, must depend almost entirely on mere observation and a constant matching of the thing observed with a set of ideals or pictures which he carries in his mind.

The task of the authors, therefore, is to draw a set of word pictures which will enable the one interestetd in grading beef to form in his mind a picture typical of each market class and grade. This is not a simple matter, because all grading of meats is relative. Specifications involving mathematical ‘measurements or mechanical apparatus can not be laid down. The grade into which a certain carcass shall be put depends upon the degree to which the carcass possesses certain factors or characteristics which are common to all units of the commodity, and these variations in degree are not yet subject to mathematical measurement.