The United States Department of Agriculture has developed a grading system for poultry carcasses. Ready-to-cook poultry cannot be off-condition (slippery or slimy, putrid or sour odor). The carcass must be clean inside and outside.
There are three grades of birds which can be sold as retail. They are A, B, and C. Most of the poultry you will find in the stores are Grade A. Grades B and C are usually processed into cut-up, chopped or ground poultry products. For example, a Grade B bird may be cut up for parts. Some of the parts will be Grade A parts.
There are three main factors used in grading poultry. These factors are exposed flesh, disjointed or broken bones, and missing parts. The table summarizes the factors for each grade.