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Common beef scams encountered in restaurants

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Restaurants charge top dollar for premium beef cuts from the right countries. But is that $60 Kobe filet mignon really from Kobe? Or even a filet mignon for that matter?

Sadly, the popularity and demand for these steaks have led to some restaurants taking shortcuts. And sometimes, not even professionals are able to spot these fakes.

Glued meat cuts

Transglutaminase is a little-known powder made from animal blood. In the food industry, it’s known as meat glue.

When added to meat, it forms a nearly invisible bond to other meats that are stuck on. This allows restaurants to cut corners by sticking together cheaper cuts of steak like flank and silverside, or leftover pieces of beef, then shaping them to resemble a more expensive cut.

Glued Meat
By Backdoor Survival
http://www.flickr.com/photos/backdoorsurvival/6873304963
Fine white lines running through a steak can be a telltale sign that it has been glued together using other cuts of beef.

Meat glue is safe for consumption and is approved for use in food in many countries. But by sticking together different cuts, the bacteria on the surface of the beef is introduced into the final steak. Unless it is cooked through, consuming a rare or medium rare steak that is glued together could put the diner at risk of illness.

Unless you are prepared to consume your steaks well done at restaurants, a viable alternative would be to sear and prepare your own steaks at home. Equipment adapted from professional kitchens like the Electrolux Maxiflame hob and the Electrolux EOB98000X steam oven can help you prepare restaurant-level steaks. The high temperatures generated by the Electrolux Maxiflame is ideal for searing steaks, while using the slow cooking function on the steam oven will cook the beef to your preferred doneness.

Otherwise, keep a close eye on your steaks. If it falls apart when you cut into it, or you see little lines formed through the meat after cooking, it could be a sign that the steak is glued together.

“Kobe” beef from the US

Kobe beef is one of the most expensive steaks you’ll encounter at restaurants, and can cost about US$700 per kilo.

Genuine Kobe beef is strictly regulated in Japan, where the label can only be applied to cows from a pure lineage of the Tajima-gyu breed. It must also be raised in the Hyogo prefecture of Japan, where the city of Kobe is located.

Kobe beef
By Qhimm
http://www.flickr.com/photos/qhimm/4591888716/
A well-marbled Kobe beef cut is one of the most sought after steaks in the world – but not all of them can claim to have come from Japan.

There’re only about 3,000 head of Kobe cows in the world, none of them outside Japan. But due to relatively lax labeling regulations in many countries, some restaurants and distributors have come to generically calling any beef that comes from Japan “Kobe”. Some enterprising farmers have also imported Tajima-gyu cows and raised them in other countries, calling the results “Kobe” beef.

Unless you’re a connoisseur of steaks, it is difficult to tell Kobe beef apart from similar high-end beef cuts. The only evidence may lie in the required 10-digit identification number that accompanies all Kobe beef sold in stores or restaurants, which allow customers to know which particular Tajima-gyu cow the steak came from.

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