Under the name beef, we consume the meat of different cattle sacrificed at different times in their lives. The legislation imposes an identification system which specifies 3 statements intended for consumers:
1. origin (country of birth, breeding and slaughter)
2. the category (age and sex of the animal)
3. the racial type (meat, dairy or mixed breed.

What we find in France under the name “Beef”
Heifer (or heifers): Female never calved slaughtered between 24 and 36 months.
Young Cow: Female under 5 years old who has already calved.
The adult cow: Female over 5 years old who has calved and slaughtered between 6 and 8 years old.
Young bovine or bull calf: Uncastrated male less than 2 years old. Slaughtered between 15 and 18 months.
The Bull: Uncastrated male over 2 years old.
Beef: castrated male over 2 years old, usually slaughtered between 24 and 30 months.
It should be noted that the breed, age, breeding method and diet are much more important than the sex of the animal in the quality of the meat.

Main French breeds
The meat breeds (bred only for meat) Charolaise, Limousine, Salers, Blonde d’Aquitaine, Rouge des Prés, Parthenaise, Blanc-bleu, Gasconne, Aubrac, Bazadaise.
Dairy breeds (bred only for milk production) Normande, Montbéliarde, Prim’Holstein, Abondance, Jersiaise.
Mixed breeds (bred for milk production as well as for meat) Normande, Abondance, Salers.

Quality criteria
The official classification uses two main criteria:
The conformation of the animal, that is to say the aspect: the development of the muscles in general but also the appearance of the thigh, the back and the shoulder. Depending on the state of the animal, it will be classified according to the E.U.R.O.P. grid.

Excellent Very good good Pretty good Poor

The state of fattening of the animal which determines the fat cover on the muscles as well as the infiltration of fat in the flesh (marbled meat). This fattening state is noted from 1 to 5

1 2 3 4 5
Skinny Little covered covered fat Very fat

Traceability is an animal identification procedure which serves to ensure the sanitary monitoring of livestock and to provide guarantees to the consumer on the origin of the animal and the quality of the product.

For this the D.A.B. (Cattle Support Document) is the animal’s identity card. This document includes: the country of identification, the animal’s identity number, sex, breed, date of birth, breeding number of birth, breed of father and mother as well as the health attestation.

The labels
Oxen classified Label Rouge:
– Limousin beef
– Chalosse beef
– Excellence Beef
– Bazas beef
– Blonde d’Aquitaine beef
– Gascon beef
– Aubrac farm beef
– Salers Label Rouge
– Charolais du Bourbonnais
– Limousin Blason Prestige
– The Parthenaise
– Farm Beef from Vendée
– Maine Beef
– Charolais
– Belle Bleue

Oxen classified in IGP (Protected Geographical Indication)
– Heifer Fleur d’Aubrac
– Charolais du Bourbonnais
– Bazas beef
– Chalosse beef
– Farm beef from Vendée
– Maine farm beef

Beef classified as AOP (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée)
– Rouge des Prés
– Camargue bull
– Fin Gras du Mézenc
– Charolles beef

Credit : chefsimon.com https://chefsimon.com/articles/produits-le-boeuf-races-labels-et-qualite