Artificial Marbling

Please read this linked, short bog post (Click Here).


Here are my thoughts in the order that they were covered in this news story:

The Anthony Bourdain suspicion quoted was merely about the marketing misuse of the words Kobe and Wagyu.

Kobe is a type of wagyu.  Wagyu means cattle in Japanese.  One would expect the coveted Kobe strain of Wagyu to sell for the higher price of the two.

Being suspect about the true origin of a steak; based solely on the price a restaurant charges for it is a somewhat lame argument.

The degree of marbling in a restaurant cooked steak is a nonissue because marbling is no longer observable at that point.

The multi stich pump enhancement of HRI (Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional) whole muscle meat items is a longstanding  practice for adding things such as moisture, enzymatic tenderizers, salt, soluble spices, sodium phosphate, organic microbial inhibitors, possibly oil etc.  When done, the starting product beef grade varies with what the retail usage will be.

I do not know anything about blood vessel injection of liquid fat into ante mortem slaughter cattle.  It seems that such a practice might violate the Humane Slaughter Act; since these market cattle are being injected for non-religious reasons.  The uniform distribution of and eating quality of such fat is questionable.  High volume modern beef-kill lines run way too fast to totally restrain each animal for vein injection.  Kill-floor contaminants would likely also be distributed throughout fat injected carcasses.  If fat injection artificial marbling was practical there would no longer be a demand for young, grain-finished market cattle.  Further, fattening market cattle is an expensive practice so a least cost, acceptable product practice would be universally welcomed.

Two USDA marbling degrees above what it takes for the Select grade lands at mid-Choice; not bottom-Prime.

It’s very hard for me to believe that bloodstream fat injected beef would ever be offered for sale as fresh meat cuts.  The eye/buy appeal factor would seem to be a big sales deterrent.

Both restaurants and fresh retail meat establishments are subject to Public Law 272 reviews, in an effort to maintain the integrity of Official USDA Grade Names.

At one point in the Artificial Marbling story it states that vein pumping is preformed ante mortem, but further down it states that beef is artificially marbled after it is slaughtered.  Which is it?

I strongly doubt that Artificially marbled beef would “look and taste as good as it’s higher Quality grade counterpart.”

As with all conspiracy theories, these tale tellers seem to forget that people talk and in this case that there are tons of disgruntled former restaurant employees that would love to confirm this news flash.

The bottom line is that little sensationalistic stories are periodically needed to increase blog readership/advertising dollars.

Further enlightenment on this subject from Meat Scientists would be greatly appreciated.

Written by George Wolfer

George Wolfer

Been associated with the meat industry pretty much since starting at a Vocational High school Meat Processing program in 1974. Like to learn and teach interesting and worthwhile livestock production, meat processing and marketing practices.

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