Boycott Watch  
November 30, 2011
What's in your Beef?
Summary: Boycott Watch asks questions to professional butchers / meat cutters and the answers may surprise you.
    Boycott Watch spoke to a few professional meat cutters, a.k.a. butchers, to learn about the differences in beef offered in supermarkets and small butcher shops. Our questions revolved around the appearance of the beef presented to the consumer. First we asked about why beef in supermarkets is far more 'red' than kosher beef. The answer is rather interesting, and is rooted in the processing.

   One step of preparing kosher beef is salting to absorbing the blood, and later the salt is washed off removing the blood with it. This is not table salt, but 'kosher salt' for which the name is a misnomer. It is not that the salt has a kosher certification - pure salt is kosher even without a certification, but rather it is a course salt that is used in the koshering process, thus the name. It is so course that the salt is, for the most part, not absorbed into the beef. Table salt, on the other hand, is so fine it would be completely absorbed into the beef making it inedible. While some people claim kosher beef is saltier than non-kosher beef, it is more of a matter of the amount of blood remaining in the non-salted beef which people are tasting, rather than actual salt from the koshering process. For consistency of taste, non-kosher markets will generally not offer salted beef.

   That naturally leads us to our second question about why non-kosher / non-salted beef is usually has a brighter more red appearance than kosher beef. This is because fresher and non-salted beef will have whiter fat because the blood has not been absorbed into the fat. The fat in non-kosher and non-salted beef will absorbs the blood over time and will even become redder over time. This is especially the case in ground beef where the fat is ground into smaller particles, allowing it to absorb more blood, regardless of how fresh it is.

   People also wonder why ground beef is sometimes brown or purple under the red outside. There is a rumor that stores use a so-called "dynamite stick" or red dye to color the ground beef red, but that is not true. The USDFA has strict rules forbidding food coloring in beef. The truth is, it is just a simple matter of oxygen contact, and is explained by the American Meat Institute.

   Now you know what you are really seeing when looking at beef. We at Boycott Watch hope this makes you a more informed, thus smarter consumer.

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