Food grade quality refers to the minimum standard for substances to qualify as fit for human consumption or permitted to come in contact with food. These guidelines are defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
External factors such as appearance, texture and flavor are all reviewed to ensure that food is acceptable to consumer standards.
Federal Grade Standards
In addition to basic food grade quality standards, federal grade standards are in place for commodities such as eggs, meat and poultry that allow for different levels of quality. USDA Prime, USDA Choice and USDA Select and all examples of federal grade standards for beef.
The ability to trace the origins of food ingredients and packaging is a key component of food grade quality requirements should a product recall be necessary. Traceability allows officials to research and pinpoint the cause of any problems related to food quality and safety.
Sanitation requirements are also important to ensure that food processing facilities are clean in order to prevent food contamination.
Any packaging that comes into contact with food, including plastics and glass, are also required to meet certain standards to ensure that harmful chemicals do not contaminate food.