What Are the Grades for Fruits & Vegetables?

Written by joey orlando
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What Are the Grades for Fruits & Vegetables?
Top-grade fresh fruits and vegetables are good sellers. (fruits image by dead_account from Fotolia.com)

The grades of fruits and vegetables are set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The purpose of these standards is to describe in a uniform language the quality and condition of commodities to the produce industry. Fruits and vegetables are graded for fresh market situations and for processing, and each fruit and vegetable has its own set of standard grades and terminology. The USDA maintains a list of fruits and vegetables and their specific grades on its website.


The USDA has set five grades for apples: U.S. extra fancy, U.S. fancy, U.S No.1, U.S. utility, and combination grades. Apples that are U.S. extra fancy are mature but not overripe, decay free, clean, fairly well formed, and mostly injury free. U.S. fancy apples are similar to extra fancy apples except have slightly less quality. U.S. No.1 apples meet the requirements of U.S. fancy grade apples except for invisible water core, russeting and colour. U.S. utility apples are mature but not overripe, not seriously deformed, and free from soft scald, freezing injury, internal breakdown and internal browning. Combination grades of apples involve different combinations of the previously mentioned grades above.

What Are the Grades for Fruits & Vegetables?
Apples can be "extra fancy." (several apples image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com)


Mushrooms have two grades set by the USDA, U.S. No. 1 and U.S. No. 2. Mushrooms that are classified by U.S. No. 1 are mature, trimmed well, fairly well shaped, and free from spots, disease, decay, damage by any cause, and insect injury. U.S. No. 2 mushrooms exhibit the same characteristics of U.S. No.1 mushrooms except for a greater tolerance of defects and open veils.

What Are the Grades for Fruits & Vegetables?
Decaying mushrooms will be downgraded. (mushrooms image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com)


Eggplants are graded U.S. Fancy, U.S. No. 1 and U.S. No. 2. U.S. Fancy eggplants are shaped well, clean, well coloured, free from decay and worm holes, and free from injury caused by freezing, insects, disease and damage caused by scars. U.S. No. 1 eggplants have the same characteristics as U.S. Fancy eggplants except that they exhibit slightly less quality. U.S. No. 2 eggplants are firm, decay free, and free from serious damage caused by insects, disease and freezing.

What Are the Grades for Fruits & Vegetables?
Don't let eggplants freeze. (eggplants, aubergines image by Alexander Lobanov from Fotolia.com)

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