(NaturalNews) It has become all the rage at fancy, high-end restaurants around the world, and many patrons are willing to fork over $100 or more for a single serving of what many celebrity chefs and culinary aficionados consider to be among the highest quality forms of beef in the world. But despite its claimed presence at restaurants everywhere, authentic Kobe beef is not actually sold anywhere outside of Japan -- and even there, it is available only in limited quantities and in select areas.
Most people who claim to have enjoyed Kobe beef at one time or another fail to realize that authentic Kobe beef comes from a specific breed of cow raised only in the Hyogo prefecture of Japan. The Tajima-gyu breed of cow has a long legacy of thriving on the unique grasses, water, and climate of this distinct region, and producing delicious cuts of beef -- and there are only about 3,000 head of certified Kobe beef in the entire world, almost all of which are raised in the Hyogo prefecture.
But because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not allow the import of any beef from Japan into the U.S., including any of the cuts that are commonly referred to and sold as Kobe beef, real Kobe beef literally cannot be found anywhere in the U.S. Real Kobe meat, in fact, is so unique and special that it is always sold with a 10-digit identification number that traces its origin down to the specific head of cattle from which it came.
'Kobe' term has no legal definition in US
And yet restaurants, specialty shops, and mail-order services all over the world, and especially throughout America, claim to sell authentic Kobe beef. Since the term "Kobe" has no legal definition in the U.S., and the federal government does not have any restrictions on how it can be used, producers and sellers are free to call their meat Kobe, and thus charge customers exorbitant amounts of money for it.
In a four-part series on fake Kobe beef and the failure of the government to protect consumers against food fraud, Forbes contributor Larry Olmsted explains in great detail what real Kobe beef is, and how American restauranteurs, butchers, and others are getting away with selling phony Kobe beef, or what he calls "Faux-be" beef. If you are interested in learning more, you can read his full report here: http://www.forbes.com
A basic rule of thumb to remember here, though, is that real Kobe beef does not exist in America, which means there is never a legitimate reason to pay Kobe prices for beef sold in America. No matter what your waiter, chef, or meat supplier tries to say about his or her beef, it is not authentic Kobe. Period.
"Historically in the U.S., restaurants and distributors have generically termed virtually any beef from anywhere in Japan Kobe, and many high-end restaurants did once get beef from Japan, and put it on the menus as Kobe, though it was not true Kobe beef," says Olmsted. "But in the past two years there has been no Japanese beef here (in the U.S.). So the term Kobe today has even less meaning, and the meat can come from many different countries and have nothing in common with actual Kobe beef except that it comes from cows."
To learn more about food secrets, be sure to check out the FREE NaturalNews report, 25 Amazing (and Weird) Facts About Food: http://www.naturalnews.com
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