Restaurant personnel should only purchase food that is wholesome and suitable to eat. Food should be obtained from commercial sources that comply with all applicable local, regional, and national sanitation laws.
Generally, meat and poultry products shipped from other countries should be inspected by agents from the Department of Agriculture to make sure these products are suitable for human consumption.
Inspection is done at the processing plants in the USA to make sure that (1) meat and poultry products have the proper quality, (2) the plant is clean, and (3) proper procedures are used by the plant's employees.
Purchasers should be aware of the difference between “inspection” and “grading.” “Inspection” refers to an official examination of food to determine whether or not it is wholesome. “Grading” refers to the process of analyzing foods relative to specific, defined standards in order to assess its quality. Inspection is often required by law, but grading is optional.
Many purchasers prefer to buy graded products because they know those products have met specific quality standards - that is one reason producers are willing to pay to have their fruits, vegetables, cheese, and other products graded. Purchasers should be aware, however, that products are graded at the processing plants; improper handling by delivery or restaurant personnel can adversely affect quality.