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beef

beef, flesh of cattle prepared for food. It has become one of the chief products of the meatpacking industry and is sold either chilled, frozen, or cured. The leading beef consumers, as well as exporters, are the U.S., the European Union, Brazil, Argentina, and Australia. The carcasses, after being dressed, are split in half along the back and then cut into fore- and hindquarters. In the United States, beef usually reaches local dealers in this form and is cut by them into portions, e.g., shank, round, rump, loins (roasts and steaks), flank, rib (roasts), chuck, plate, and brisket. In addition, the heart, kidneys, liver, tongue, stomach wall (tripe), and tail are edible. The tenderest beef comes from steers (castrated males) and heifers (females that have not calved). The meat should be a clear, light-red color and firm. Beef from older cattle is converted into various products, such as beef extract, sausage, corned beef, and canned or potted products. Beef is a source of proteins, minerals, and vitamins, but many health professionals, stressing risks of heart disease and cancer from eating too much saturated fat, have urged cattle growers to produce leaner, organically fed beef and have encouraged the public to choose leaner cuts, serve a three-ounce portion, and reduce the frequency of beef in the diet.

See J. Simpson and D. Farris, The World's Beef Business (1982); J. Ubaldi, Jack Ubaldi's Meat Book (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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