Administration of mandatory federal inspection is assigned to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. The federal government funds the agency.
USDA Grading, Contract Acceptance and Certification Services
These voluntary services are available to help assure the integrity and quality of turkey and turkey products purchased by foodservice organizations. They are performed by poultry specialists in the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and are paid for by turkey processors and others who use them. For more information, contact:
National Supervisor, Grading Branch
USDA grading service. Grading involves evaluating poultry in terms of standards that describe several quality levels. There are grade standards for whole carcass poultry; parts with or without skin, bone-in or boneless; roasts and tenderloins. There are three quality levels:
While grading is voluntary, 70 percent of all turkeys inspected for wholesomeness also are graded.
U.S. Grade A turkeys will have the following attributes:
USDA contract acceptance and certification services. Poultry acceptance and certification services assure foodservice operators that the products received are indeed the products ordered. These services are provided for turkey products based on pre-bid samples or explicit product specifications, approved by USDA-AMS.
Pre-bid samples allow foodservice operators to evaluate or sample several suppliers' turkey products prior to awarding a contract. To accomplish this, the processor provides the USDA with detailed information regarding formulation, fabrication and processing. The grader supervises the production, places them under seal and issues a certificate. Subsequently, the samples are shipped to the recipient for evaluation and acceptance. The grader then supervises the production of future deliveries to assure compliance with the same processing parameters used to produce the samples.Specifications for turkey products can be established to meet your needs. USDA poultry specialists monitor each applicable phase of production and provide certification that each delivery complies with the specification requirements. Setting product specifications offers these benefits:
Turkey products that have been determined to be in compliance with all specification requirements are identified with a Contract Compliance Stamp. The number in the center of the stamp will correspond to the number on the USDA Poultry Products Grading Certificate issued at the time of shipment. The certificate accompanies each shipment to its destination, and the certificate number and the official stamp number must match. The certificate is called a PY-210 , and every box in a shipment will be stamped with this number.
When specifying any type of turkey product, be as specific as possible about the nature and proportion of all ingredients. Here is a sample specification developed by the USDA.
Government product standards have been established to help define and describe various characteristics of turkey products. Product labeling and promotion must conform to such standards. Understanding these standards can be helpful when selecting products to meet food costs or nutritional requirements. For example, government standards describe the percentage of white vs. dark meat in turkey roasts and rolls.
Much more information about standards is presented in the Glossary of this manual.