What is the difference between a no roll and a select?
By Bob Oros
The term "no roll" means the processing plant decided not to have the “USDA Grader” determine the quality level of the meat and did not "roll" the carcass with the USDA grade. The term "roll" comes from the process used to put the grade on the carcass.
The grade is put on the carcass with a tool that looks similar to a paint roller. The grader “rolls” the grade on as if he/she was painting a wall.
Choice beef normally brings a higher profit margin for the packer so it is in their best interest to have as much as possible rolled as choice. Only five percent of the beef is graded as prime.
A "no roll" product is beef that did not meet the quality level of choice and will not have the consistency that a graded product will have. If you want to have a consistent quality level the only way to assure that level is to buy a carcass that is rolled (graded) either USDA Choice or Select.
The best way to think of a “no roll” is that it is an inspected piece of meat, however, it has not been quality graded. To make it easier to understand, it can be called an “ungraded” piece of meat.