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Blue, Green, Purple or Red colour on your steak? Stamps on beef, what are they?

If you’ve had a few steaks or roasts in your lifetime you’ve probably seen a green, blue, purple or red colour on the fat of your beef. Don’t panic. It’s not mold and no – it’s not the remnants of a cow’s crazy-night-out tattoo; it’s just a stamp. So, don’t send it back to kitchen!

If what you notice looks like the picture above, it’s just an extra scrutiny guarantee. In Canada and the United States the stamp on a beef carcass is simply its grading or a seal of safety. It shows that it has been inspected and is fit to process for human consumption. The colour, shape and size of these stamps can vary from province to province and by type of inspection (whether provincial or federal).

Vegetable-based dye

For cosmetic purposes, inspectors do try to place the safety stamps on beef parts that won’t be sold as a whole piece to the consumer. It does happen, every so often though, that you do get a steak with a knick of colour but we promise that it won’t impact the taste. You’ll be glad to know that the stamps are pressed in very safe, non-toxic and totally edible ink by certified meat surveyors. The ink is a vegetable-based dye or, made from berries or colour rich roots. It’s perfectly safe to eat!

Beef Grading Stamps

In addition to the safety stamping is a second round of the colour-coded markings that describe a beef’s grading. These are the stamps you are more likely to find on the meat itself and end up on your plate. The grades in Canada are: Canada A, Canada AA, Canada AAA or Canada Prime. These are gradings to define the marbling standards. Marbling is the fatty content between the meat that will melt and give the beef it’s juiciness, tenderness, texture and taste.

Grading and safety stamps are also stamped on the boxes in the plant. As an end consumer you wouldn’t usually receive the box from the processing plant so sometimes the evidence of a safety and quality review is a welcomed sight as a reminder of your provider’s commitment to your meals. To learn more about stamps, safety and grading, visit the Government of Canada’s website and search ‘Labelling requirements for meat and poultry products’. It’s a great educational tool.

The majority of Papa Earth’s meat and fish products come from federally inspected processing plants. The rest come from provincially inspected plants and smaller farms. Our smaller farmers who have their own farm shops on location work with provincially inspected plants to make sure their beefs is safe is and to the quality they claim.

Canada Beef Grade Stamps

USDA inspection

As an aside in the US they use the similar methods of categorizing but will have their own stamps that will say USDA inspected. The US has different marbling definitions than here in Canada; USDA Select, USDA Choice and USDA Prime. You will not find these American stamps on Papa Earth beef products as we only source our beef from local Canadian farmers.

Papa Earth Meat Delivery

When you purchase a Canadian butcher box from Papa Earth’s meat delivery service you can be assured that the highest standards and strictest food and safety guidelines have been met. In our meat delivery service, we do not only offer graded AAA beef but also grass-fed, grass-finished beef, lamb, goat, pork poultry and wild caught seafood. If you’ve never tried a Papa Earth box, we recommend building a box and tasting the difference. If you like it enough or you know you need to stock up, we now also offer bulk meat orders. This is the best way to save some money and get wholesale pricing.

For the bulk orders just be conscious of how much freezer space you’ll need for your order as it easily is too much for the freezer of a conventional home fridge. Because most of our products are vacuum sealed freezer burn typically does not occur and can be stored for a long time.