Friday, February 22, 2008

Extending the beef

The Beef Check-Off's Beef Innovations Group just announced 5 new cuts of beef, all from the Chuck. All but one appear to be new names for existing cuts. Terminology in the beef industry is pretty unappealing from a consumer perspective. Shoulder Clod, anyone? Rump Roast? So I'm okay in principle with creating new, more attractive names for existing cuts.

But why in the world would one of the new cuts be called "Delmonico"? This "new" Delmonico appears to be the same as the cut formerly known as the Chuck Eye Steak. In addition, Delmonico is already used to describe at several other cuts.

  • A very thick boneless Top Sirloin (from Delmonico's restaurant in New York, from the Short Loin Primal)
  • A Club steak (T-bone with no tenderloin, from the Loin Primal)
  • A boneless Rib-eye (from the Rib Primal)
  • A boneless New York Strip Loin aka Kansas City Steak aka Ambassador steak... You get the picture.

The new Delmonico is from the Chuck Primal.

Just to illustrate how absurd this really is, take a look at this image. Do you suppose the next Delmonico will come from the Round Primal?

Anyways, I'm personally interested to try the Chuck Eye Steak aka Delmonico as from the description, it sounds relatively appealing. The Denver Steak, too. And it would be great if these new cuts do as well as the Flat Iron steak (Top Blade), which is a delicious and great on the grill.

But I really wish the new name were something other than Delmonico. It's confusing at best.

FYI, the other cuts are as follows.

Denver Steak: Seems to be a genuinely new cut, I am waiting to hear back from our trusted butcher.

America's Beef Roast: When rolled and tied, seems to be the same as the roast currently known as the Chuck Eye Roast.

Country Style Beef Ribs: Same beef as America's Beef Roast but cut into small portions that look a bit like ribs. No bones.

Country Style Beef Roast. Not sure what this is, cutting instructions aren't available on the Web site.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Should USDA Reduce the Number of Inspectors? had a story last week that caught my eye. The USDA is testing a video analysis tool (registration required) that would replace human graders in slaughterhouses. Today, USDA inspectors visually observe a beef carcass and assign a grade, e.g. Prime or Choice. The logic is that a machine will be more objective than a human grader.

This might indeed be true. I personally think that the grading system is a bit too simplistic to truly differentiate quality and taste but it is a good start so consistency is welcome.

Especially in light of the recent Westland beef recall, I'm just not sure that the USDA should be reducing the number of inspectors in house. Perhaps they don't intend to remove the human inspectors but instead reassign them to monitor food or employee safety or animal welfare practices. I hope that they'll consider this opportunity.

I Just Don't Understand

Clone advocates argue that they are developing clones because there is a consumer benefit – more consistent taste and quality.

If this were the case, wouldn’t they insist on the right to label the meat as coming from clones or their progeny, so consumers would know they were getting a superior product?