What is Wagyu beef?
“Wagyu” literally means “Japanese cattle.” Wagyu beef comes from the four main breeds of cattle in Japan: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Poll and Japanese Shorthorn, as well as crossbreeds that result from interbreeding among those four breeds. It’s not true Wagyu beef unless it came from one of the breeds and was both born and bred in Japan.
According to Forbes writer Larry Olmsted, who wrote a comprehensive four-part series on Kobe and Wagyu beef, some farmers have transported purebred Wagyu cattle to the United States, but few have actually maintained the bloodlines in 100% pure forms, with documentation to prove it. “Even the term ‘purebred Wagyu,’ used by the American Wagyu Association, does not refer to a wholly pure animal,” Olmsted wrote. “Their term for that is 100% Wagyu. However, much of what is sold as Wagyu here is what the AWA calls ‘percentage Wagyu,’ meaning it is part Japanese breed after being crossed with other types of cattle.” *
What is Kobe beef?
Kobe beef comes from the Tajima strain of Japanese Black cattle, one of the four breeds of Wagyu cattle. But the bloodline isn’t the only criteria. The terms “Kobe Beef,” “Kobe Meat,” “Kobe-Gyu,” “Tajima-Gyu” and “Tajima Beef” are all registered trademarks in Japan, and the meat from Tajima-gyu cows must meet extremely strict standards to obtain certification for such labels.*
**Starting in the late 18th century, and for several decades thereafter, native Japanese cattle were interbred with many European breeds, including Brown Swiss, Shorthorn and Devon. The cattle originally recognized in 1943 as “Kobe beef” were cattle from herds in the Kobe area of Japan, and could be any of four breeds of Wagyu cattle:
- The Akaushi (Japanese Red),
- The Kuroushi (Japanese Black),
- The Japanese Polled; and
- The Japanese Shorthorn.
Tajima is a strain of the Japanese Black.**
In addition to being of the pure Tajima breed raised in Hyogo prefecture, the cattle must be slaughtered at specific slaughterhouses, have a BMS (marbling index) of No. 6 or higher (on a scale of 12), have a gross carcass weight of 470 kilograms or less and meet a yield score — a grade based on the amount of percentage of edible cuts that can be gained from a single head of cattle — of A or B (it ranges from A to C). The cattle are fed only the best feed — rice straw, maize, barley and other cereals — and drink only fresh, clean water.*
**In 1983, a marketing group was formed in order to define and promote the Kobe trademark. The Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association set standards in order for a cow to be labelled Kobe Beef. Kobe beef in Japan is a registered trademark of the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association (神戸肉流通推進協議会 Kōbeniku Ryūtsū Suishin Kyōgikai?). It must fulfil all the following conditions:
- Tajima cattle born in Hyōgo Prefecture
- Farm feeding in Hyōgo Prefecture
- Bullock (steer) or castrated bull, to purify the beef
- Processed at slaughterhouses in Kobe, Nishinomiya, Sanda, Kakogawa and Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture.
- Marbling ratio, called BMS,of level 6 and above.
- Meat Quality Score of 4 or 5
- Gross weight of beef from one animal is 470 kg or less.
- The cattle are fed on grain, fodder and brushed sometimes for setting for. The melting point of fat of Kobe beef (Tajima cattle) is lower than common beef fat.
The meat is prized for its flavour, tenderness and “shimofuri” fat marbling, which means it has a high degree of fat marbling that melts at low temperatures, giving the beef the “melt-in-your-mouth” effect. *
Firstly, the slaughtering of the cattle itself has to follow the Islamic slaughtering method. One of the requirements, the slaughtering house has to bring-in a qualified Muslim slaughterer who is a Muslim practicing. Secondly, the infamous feeding of Japanese beer has to be stopped.
|They are fed with beer in August, September and October when the cows suffer from the heat and lose their appetite. Temperature in the cow shed is about 27-28 degrees Centigrade, 30 degrees outside. They are given a bottle of beer a day until their appetite returns. Source : MEAT DIGEST : THE HISTORY OF KOBE BEEF|