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Beef is meat obtained from a bovine. The better cuts are usually obtained from steers, as heifers tend to be kept for breeding. Older animals are used for beef when they are past their reproductive prime. The meat from older cows and bulls is generally tougher, so it is frequently used for ground beef. Cattle raised for beef may be allowed to roam free on grasslands, or may be confined at some stage in pens as part of a large feeding operation called a feedlot.

Beef is one of the more common meats used in European and North American cuisine. It is an important part of Tex-Mex cuisine and is used in dishes such as tacos, enchiladas, carne guisada and fajitas. Beef can be cut into steak, pot roasts, short ribs, or ground into hamburger. Several Asian and European nationalities include the blood in their cuisine as well -- the British use it to make blood pudding, and Filipinos use it to make a stew called dinuguan. Other beef variety meats include the tongue, which is usually sliced for sandwiches; tripe from the stomach; various glands, referred to as sweetbreads; and the tender testicles of the bull commonly known as "beef balls", "calf fries", or "Rocky Mountain oysters."

Beef is taboo in a number of religions, most notably Hinduism. Also, consumption of beef is frowned upon by many Buddhists in East Asia, although it is not strictly taboo.

Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, and the United States are the world's five largest producers of beef. Beef production is also important to the economy of Argentina.

Table of contents
1 Beef Grades
2 Cuts of Beef
3 Special Beef Designations
4 Roast Beef
5 "Mad Cow Disease"
6 Slang
7 External links

Beef Grades

In the United States, the USDA operates a voluntary beef grading program. The grades are based on two main criteria, the degree of marbling, or fat, in the beef and the age of the carcass. The younger and more marbled receive the better grades. The better grades are more tender and juicy and are typically used by restaurants and hotels and often, except for Prime, sold in supermarkets. The lower grades are used for processing or may be sold as ungraded ground beef. The USDA quality grades are as follows:

Cuts of Beef

primal cuts

Beef is first divided into primal cuts. These are basic sections from which steaks and other subdivisions are cut. The following is a list of the primal cuts, ordered front to back, then top to bottom. The short loin and the sirloin are sometimes considered as one section. upper half lower half

Special Beef Designations

Roast Beef

Europe, the English are particularly associated with beef-eating, which is why the French call them les rosbifs (roast beefs).

In fact, according to research carried out by the Museum of London amongst Roman rubbish dumps in London, it seems that the English acquired their first taste of roast beef from the Roman military as the city expanded under their occupation. Despite this, it seems not to have become popular amongst the population in general until the Middle Ages or later, and only became a 'national caricature' in the 18th century. (Observer Aug 6, 2000). Despite this image, England today has more vegetarians and semi-vegetarians, in percentage terms, than any other Western country.

There is also a (much parodied) song called The Roast Beef of Old England.

"Mad Cow Disease"

The over-intensive farming of beef resulted in the world's first recognised outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or, colloquially, "mad cow disease") in the United Kingdom in 1986. Eating beef from cattle with BSE is thought to have caused the new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD) in about 131 cases (2003 June data) in the United Kingdom and some few in France. The perception of beef as potentially lethal caused significant damage to the UK beef industry. The attempts to wipe out BSE in the UK by a kill-and-burn campaign, although ultimately successful, did further damage from which the beef industry is only recently recovering.

Since then, a number of other countries have had outbreaks of BSE.


People will also refer to 'beef' as slang, as a verb as in 'they totally beefed the work' or 'why did you beef the ramp?', or a noun as in 'what's the beef?' The main place where people would use beef as slang would be in sports.

External links