Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle (cows). Beef is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of Australia, Argentina, Europe and America, and is also important in Africa, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. Beef is considered a taboo food in some cultures: especially in Hinduism (although not strictly forbidden), it is also discouraged among some Buddhists.
Beef muscle meat can be cut into steak, roasts or short ribs. Some cuts are processed (corned beef or beef jerky), and trimmings, usually mixed with meat from older, leaner cattle, are ground, minced or used in sausages. The blood is used in some varieties of blood sausage. Other parts that are eaten include the oxtail, tongue, tripe from the reticulum or rumen, gland (particularly the pancreas and thymus) referred to as sweetbread, the heart, the brain (although forbidden where there is a danger of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE), the liver, the kidneys, and the tender testicles of the bull (known in the US as calf fries, prairie oysters, or Rocky Mountain oysters). Some intestines are eaten as-is, but are used more often as natural sausage casings. The lungs and the udder are considered unfit for human consumption in the US. Beef bones are used for making beef stock.
Beef from steers and heifers are equivalent, except for steers having slightly less fat and more muscle, all treatments being equal. Depending on economics, the number of heifers kept for breeding varies. Older animals are used for beef when they are past their reproductive prime. The meat from older cows and bulls is usually tougher, so it is frequently used for mince (UK)/ground beef (US). 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, where they are usually fed a ration of grain, protein, roughage and a vitamin/mineral preblend.
In absolute numbers, the United States, Brazil, Japan and the People's Republic of China are the world's four largest consumers of beef. On a per capita basis, Argentina is the largest consumer of beef, with 65.2 kilograms per year, followed by the United States with 43.8 kilograms per year, and Australia with 37.5 kilograms per year.
Argentine people eat the most beef in the world at 64.6 kg/year. People in the EU eat 16.9 kg. USA is at 40.2 kg. 
The flesh of bovines has been eaten by hunters from prehistoric times; some of the earliest known cave paintings such as those of Lascaux show aurochs in hunting scenes. Domestication of cattle occurred around 8000 BC, providing ready access to beef, milk and leather. Most cattle originated in the Old World with the exception of bison hybrids. Examples include the Wagyu from Japan, Ankole-Watusi from Egypt, and longhorn Zebu from the Indian subcontinent. Cattle were widely used across the Old World for draft animals (oxen), milk production, or specifically for meat production, depending on local needs and resources. With mechanization of farming, some breeds were specifically bred to increase meat yield, like Chianina and Charolais or improve texture like the Murray Grey, Angus or Wagyu. Some breeds (dual-purpose) have been selected for meat and milk production, like Brown Swiss (Braunvieh).
The word beef is from Old French, in contrast to cow, which is Germanic. After the Norman Conquest, the French-speaking nobles who ruled England naturally used French words to refer to the meats they were served, while the Germanic words were retained to refer to the live animals.
Thus the animal was called cu (cow) by the Anglo-Saxon peasants but the meat was called boef (ox) (Modern French boeuf) by the French nobles—who did not often deal with the live animal—when it was served to them for dinner.
This is one example of the common English dichotomy between the words for animals (with largely Germanic origins) and their meat (with Romanic origins) that is also found in such English word-pairs swine/pork, sheep/mutton, and chicken/poultry.
Beef is first divided into primal cuts. These are basic sections from which steaks and other subdivisions are cut. Since the animal's legs and neck muscles do the most work, they are the toughest; the meat becomes more tender as distance from hoof and horn increases. Different countries have different cuts and names.
See the external links section below for links to more beef cut charts and diagrams.
The following is a list of the American primal cuts, ordered front to back, then top to bottom. The short loin and the sirloin are sometimes considered as one section (loin).
|Brisket||often associated with barbecue beef brisket.|
|Shank||used primarily for stews and soups; it is not usually served any other way due to it being the toughest of the cuts.|
|Plate||produces short ribs for pot roasting and types of steak such as the outside skirt steak for, say, fajitas and hanger steak. It is typically a cheap, tough, and fatty meat.|
|Flank||used mostly for grinding, except for the long and flat flank steak, best known for use in London broil. Once one of the most affordable steaks on the market, it is substantially tougher than the loin and rib steaks, therefore many flank recipes use marinades or moist cooking methods such as braising. Popularity and leanness have resulted in increased price.|
In the United States, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) operates a voluntary beef grading program. The meat processor pays for a trained AMS meat grader to grade whole carcasses at the abattoir. Users are required to comply with Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) grade labeling procedures. The official USDA grade designation can appear in one or any combination of the following ways: container markings, individual bags, legible roller brand appearing on the meat itself, or by a USDA shield stamp that incorporates the quality and/or yield grade.
There are eight beef quality grades. The grades are based on two main criteria: the degree of marbling (intramuscular fat) in the beef, and the maturity (estimated age of the animal at slaughter). Some meat scientists object to the current scheme of USDA grading since it is not based on direct measurement of tenderness, although marbling and maturity are indicators of tenderness. Most other countries' beef grading systems mirror the US model. Most beef offered for sale in supermarkets is graded US Choice or Select. US Prime beef is sold to hotels and upscale restaurants. Beef that would rate as US Standard or less is almost never offered for grading.
Utility, Cutter, and Canner grade are rarely used in foodservice operations and primarily used by processors and canners.
There are five beef yield grades - 1 to 5, which estimate the yield of saleable product, with YG 1 having the highest and YG 5 the lowest. Although consumers rarely see or are aware of it, yield grade was an important marketing tool for packers and retailers. The conversion from carcass and bone-in primals to boneless, trimmed cuts has reduced the importance.
Traditionally, beef sold in steakhouses and supermarkets has been advertised by its USDA grade; however, many restaurants and retailers have recently begun advertising beef on the strength of brand names and the reputation of a specific breed of cattle, such as black Angus.
To improve tenderness of beef, it often is aged (i.e., stored refrigerated) to allow endogenous proteolytic enzymes to weaken structural and myofibrillar proteins. Wet aging is accomplished using vacuum packaging to reduce spoilage and yield loss. Dry aging involves hanging primals (usually ribs or loins) in humidity-controlled coolers. Outer surfaces dry out and can support growth of molds (and spoilage bacteria, if too humid), resulting in trim and evaporative losses. Evaporation concentrates the remaining proteins and increases flavor intensity; the molds can contribute a nut-like flavor. The majority of the tenderizing effect occurs in the first 10 days, although two to three days allow significant effects. Boxed beef, stored and distributed in vacuum packaging, is, in effect, wet aged during distribution. Premium steakhouses dry age for 21 to 28 days or wet age up to 45 days for maximum effect on flavor and tenderness. Meat from less tender cuts or older cattle can be mechanically tenderized by forcing small, sharp blades through the cuts to disrupt the proteins. Also, solutions of exogenous proteolytic enzymes (papain, bromelin or ficin) can be injected to augment the endogenous enzymes. Similarly, solutions of salt and sodium phosphates can be injected to soften and swell the myofibrillar proteins. This improves juiciness and tenderness. Salt can improve the flavor, but phosphate can contribute a soapy flavor.
|Grilling||is cooking the beef over or under a high radiant heat source, generally in excess of 650 °F (343 °C). This leads to searing of the surface of the beef, which creates a flavorful crust. In the U.S.A., Australia, Canada, and the UK grilling, particularly over charcoal, is sometimes known as barbecuing, often shortened to BBQ.|
|Broiling||is similar to grilling, but specifically with the heat source above the meat. In the UK, this is known as grilling.|
|Roasting||is a way of cooking meat in a hot oven, producing roast beef. Liquid is not usually added; the beef may be basted by fat on the top, or by spooning hot fat from the oven pan over the top. A gravy may be made from the cooking juices, after skimming off excess fat.|
|Stirfrying||is a typically Chinese and Asian way of cooking. Cooking oil with flavourings such as garlic, ginger and onions are put in a very hot wok. Then slices of meat are added, followed by ingredients which cook quicker: mixed vegetables, etc. The dish is ready when the ingredients are 'just cooked'.|
Grilled or roast beef can be cooked to various degrees, from very rare to well done. The degree of cooking corresponds to the temperature in the approximate center of the meat, which can be measured with a meat thermometer.
|Very rare||115–125 °F (46–52 °C)||Blood-red meat, soft, slightly juicy|
|Rare||125–135 °F (52–57 °C)||Red center, gray surface, soft, juicy|
|Medium rare||135–145 °F (57–63 °C)||Dark Pink throughout, gray-brown surface, very juicy|
|Medium||145–155 °F (63–68 °C)||Pink center, becomes gray-brown towards surface|
|Medium well||155–165 °F (68–74 °C)||Thin line of pink, firm texture.|
|Well done||>165 °F (74 °C)||Gray-brown throughout, tough texture.|
Meat has usually been cooked in water which is just simmering; higher temperatures make meat tougher. Since thermostatic temperature control became available, cooking at temperatures well below boiling, 65 °C (149 °F) to 90 °C (194 °F), for prolonged periods has become possible; this is just hot enough to dissolve connective tissue and kill bacteria, with minimal toughening.
Steak tartare is a French dish made from finely chopped or ground raw meat (often beef). More accurately, it is scraped so as not to let even the slightest of the sinew fat get into the scraped meat. It is often served with onions, capers, seasonings like fresh ground pepper and Worcestershire sauce, and sometimes raw egg. The Belgian dish filet américan is also made of finely chopped ground beef, though it is seasoned differently, and either eaten as a main dish or can be used as a dressing for a sandwich. Kibbeh nayyeh is a similar Lebanese dish. And, in Ethiopia, a ground raw meat dish called tire siga or Kitfo is eaten.
Carpaccio of beef is a thin slice of raw beef dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Often the beef is partially frozen before slicing to allow very thin slices to be cut.
Yukhoe is a variety of hoe, raw dishes in Korean cuisine which is usually made from raw ground beef seasoned with various spices or sauces. The beef part used for yukhoe is tender rump steak. For the seasoning, soy sauce, sugar, salt, sesame oil, green onion, and ground garlic, sesame seed, black pepper and juice of bae (Korean pear) are used. The yolk of a raw egg is mostly topped on the beef.
Bresaola is an air-dried salted beef that has been aged about 2–3 months until it becomes hard and a dark red, almost purple colour. It is lean, has a sweet, musty smell and is tender. It originated in Valtellina, a valley in the Alps of northern Italy's Lombardy region. Bündnerfleisch is a similar product from neighbouring Switzerland.
Corned beef is a cut of beef cured or pickled in a seasoned brine. The corn in corned beef refers to the grains of coarse salts (known as corns) used to cure it. The term corned beef can denote different styles of brine-cured beef, depending on the region. Some, like American-style corned beef, are highly seasoned and often considered delicatessen fare.
Beef jerky is dried, salted, smoked beef popular in the United States.
Biltong is a cured, salted, air dried beef popular in South Africa.
Spiced beef is a cured and salted joint of round, topside, or silverside, traditionally served at Christmas in Ireland. It is a form of salt beef, cured with spices and saltpetre, intended to be boiled or broiled in Guinness or a similar stout, and then optionally roasted for a period after.
Most followers of Hinduism do not eat beef, despite it not being expressly forbidden. Bovines have been highly revered as sacred to mankind in Indus Valley Civilizations since early historical times. Their role as a source of milk, dairy products and their relative importance to the pastoral Aryans who were among the earliest followers of Hinduism, allowed this special status for the Indian cattle, to develop.
During the season of Lent, Catholics traditionally give up all meat and poultry products as a religious act of fasting. Some Catholics choose to give up these food for the entire 40 days of Lent while others abstain only on Fridays, sometimes annually.
Beef is a good source of minerals such as zinc, selenium, phosphorus, iron, and B vitamins. Red meat is the most significant dietary source of carnitine and, like any other meat or fish, is a source of creatine.
A study released in 2007 by the World Cancer Research Fund reported “strong evidence that red meat and processed meats are causes of bowel cancer” and recommends that people eat less than 500 grams (18 oz) of cooked red meat weekly, and as little processed meat as possible. The report also recommends that average consumption in populations should not exceed 300 grams (11 oz) per week, stating that this goal "corresponds to the level of consumption of red meat at which the risk of colorectal cancer can clearly be seen to rise." Lean beef, with its high selenium and B12 content, may actually lower the risk of colon cancer.
The Harvard School of Public Health recommends that consumers eat red meat sparingly as it has high levels of undesirable saturated fat. Like some other animal products (such as whole milk), red meat provides a rich source of conjugated linoleic acid which may protect against several diseases along with the saturated fat. Beef's high content of B6 and B12 may help lower homocysteine.
Since then, other countries have had outbreaks of BSE:
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Meat is animal flesh that is used as food. Most often, this means the skeletal muscle and associated fat, but it may also describe other edible tissues such as organs, livers, skin, brains, bone marrow, kidneys, or lungs. The word meat is also used by the meat packing industry in a more restrictive sense—the flesh of mammalian species (pigs, cattle, lambs, etc.) raised and prepared for human consumption, to the exclusion of fish, poultry, and game.
The word meat comes from the Old English word mete, which referred to food in general. The term is related to mad in Danish, mat in Swedish and Norwegian, and matur in Icelandic, which also mean 'food'. The word "mete" also exists in Old Frisian (and to a lesser extent, modern West Frisian) to denote important food, differentiating it from "swiets" (sweets) and "dierfied" (animal feed).
One definition that refers to meat as not including fish developed over the past few hundred years and has religious influences. The distinction between fish and "meat" is codified by the Jewish dietary law of kashrut, regarding the mixing of milk and meat, which does not forbid the mixing of milk and fish. Modern Jewish legal practice (halakha) on kashrut classifies the flesh of both mammals and birds as "meat"; fish are considered to be parve, neither meat nor a dairy food. The Catholic dietary restriction on "meat" on Fridays also does not apply to the cooking and eating of fish.
The Latin word carō "meat" (also the root of 'carnal', referring to the 'pleasures of the flesh') is often a euphemism for sexual pleasure, effected from the function performed by fleshy organs. Thus 'meat' may refer to the human body in a sensual, or sexual, connotation. A meat market, in addition to simply denoting a market where meat is sold, also refers to a place or situation where humans are treated or viewed as commodities, especially a place known as one where a sexual partner may be found.
"Meat" may also be used to refer to humans humorously or indifferently. In military slang, "meat shield" refers to soldiers sent towards an enemy to draw fire away from another unit.
Meat constituted a substantial proportion of even the earliest humans' diet, paleontological evidence suggests. Early hunter-gatherers depended on the organized hunting of large animals such as bison and deer.
The domestication of animals, of which we have evidence dating back to the end of the last glacial period (c. 10,000 years BP), allowed the systematic production of meat and the breeding of animals with a view to improving meat production. The animals which are now the principal sources of meat were domesticated in conjunction with the development of early civilizations:
Modern agriculture employs a number of techniques, such as progeny testing, to make animals evolve rapidly towards having the qualities desired by meat producers. For instance, in the wake of well-publicised health concerns associated with saturated fats in the 1980s, the fat content of UK beef, pork and lamb fell from 20–26 percent to 4–8 percent within a few decades, both due to selective breeding for leanness and changed methods of butchery. Methods of genetic engineering aimed at improving the meat production qualities of animals are now also becoming available.
Even though it is a very old industry, meat production continues to be shaped strongly by the rapidly evolving demands of customers. The trend towards selling meat in pre-packaged cuts has increased the demand for larger breeds of cattle, which are better suited to producing such cuts. Ever more animals not previously exploited for their meat are now being farmed, especially the more agile and mobile species, whose muscles tend to be developed better than those of cattle, sheep or pigs. Examples include the various antelope species, the zebra, water buffalo and camel, as well as non-mammals such as the crocodile, emu and ostrich. Another important trend in contemporary meat production is organic farming which, while providing no organoleptic benefit to meat so produced, meets an increasing demand for numerous reasons.
Agricultural science has identified several factors bearing on the growth and development of meat in animals.
Several economically important traits in meat animals are heritable to some degree (see the table to the right) and can thus be selected for by breeding. In cattle, certain growth features are controlled by recessive genes which have not so far been controlled, complicating breeding. One such trait is dwarfism; another is the doppelender or "double muscling" condition, which causes muscle hypertrophy and thereby increases the animal's commercial value. Genetic analysis continues to reveal the genetic mechanisms that control numerous aspects of the endocrine system and, through it, meat growth and quality.
Genetic engineering techniques can shorten breeding programmes significantly because they allow for the identification and isolation of genes coding for desired traits, and for the reincorporation of these genes into the animal genome. To enable such manipulation, research is ongoing (as of 2006[update]) to map the entire genome of sheep, cattle and pigs. Some research has already seen commercial application. For instance, a recombinant bacterium has been developed which improves the digestion of grass in the rumen of cattle, and some specific features of muscle fibres have been genetically altered.
Experimental reproductive cloning of commercially important meat animals such as sheep, pig or cattle has been successful. The multiple asexual reproduction of animals bearing desirable traits can thus be anticipated, although this is not yet practical on a commercial scale.
Heat regulation in livestock is of great economic significance, because mammals attempt to maintain a constant optimal body temperature. Low temperatures tend to prolong animal development and high temperatures tend to retard it. Depending on their size, body shape and insulation through tissue and fur, some animals have a relatively narrow zone of temperature tolerance and others (e.g. cattle) a broad one. Static magnetic fields, for reasons still unknown, also retard animal development.
The quality and quantity of usable meat depends on the animal's plane of nutrition, i.e., whether it is over- or underfed. Scientists disagree, however, about how exactly the plane of nutrition influences carcase composition.
The composition of the diet, especially the amount of protein provided, is also an important factor regulating animal growth. Ruminants, which may digest cellulose, are better adapted to poor-quality diets, but their ruminal microorganisms degrade high-quality protein if supplied in excess. Because producing high-quality protein animal feed is expensive (see also Environmental impact below), several techniques are employed or experimented with to ensure maximum utilization of protein. These include the treatment of feed with formalin to protect amino acids during their passage through the rumen, the recycling of manure by feeding it back to cattle mixed with feed concentrates, or the partial conversion of petroleum hydrocarbons to protein through microbial action.
In plant feed, environmental factors influence the availability of crucial nutrients or micronutrients, a lack or excess of which can cause a great many ailments. In Australia, for instance, where the soil contains limited phosphate, cattle are being fed additional phosphate to increase the efficiency of beef production. Also in Australia, cattle and sheep in certain areas were often found losing their appetite and dying in the midst of rich pasture; this was at length found to be a result of cobalt deficiency in the soil. Plant toxins are also a risk to grazing animals; for instance, fluoracetate, found in some African and Australian plants, kills by disrupting the cellular metabolism. Certain man-made pollutants such as methylmercury and some pesticide residues present a particular hazard due to their tendency to bioaccumulate in meat, potentially poisoning consumers.
Meat producers may seek to improve the fertility of female animals through the administration of gonadotrophic or ovulation-inducing hormones. In pig production, sow infertility is a common problem, possibly due to excessive fatness. No methods currently exist to augment the fertility of male animals. Artificial insemination is now routinely used to produce animals of the best possible genetic quality, and the efficiency of this method is improved through the administration of hormones that synchronize the ovulation cycles within groups of females.
Growth hormones, particularly anabolic agents such as steroids, are used in some countries to accelerate muscle growth in animals. This practice has given rise to the beef hormone controversy, an international trade dispute. It may also decrease the tenderness of meat, although research on this is inconclusive, and have other effects on the composition of the muscle flesh. Where castration is used to improve control over male animals, its side effects are also counteracted by the administration of hormones.
Sedatives may be administered to animals to counteract stress factors and increase weight gain. The feeding of antibiotics to certain animals has been shown to improve growth rates also. This practice is particularly prevalent in the USA, but has been banned in the EU, partly because it causes antibiotic resistance in pathogenic microorganisms.
Numerous aspects of the biochemical composition of meat vary in complex ways depending on the species, breed, sex, age, plane of nutrition, training and exercise of the animal, as well as on the anatomical location of the musculature involved. Even between animals of the same litter and sex there are considerable differences in such parameters as the percentage of intramuscular fat.
Adult mammalian muscle flesh consists of roughly 75 percent water, 19 percent protein, 2.5 percent intramuscular fat, 1.2 percent carbohydrates and 2.3 percent other soluble non-protein substances. These include nitrogenous compounds, such as amino acids, and inorganic substances such as minerals.
Muscle proteins are either soluble in water (sarcoplasmic proteins, about 11.5 percent of total muscle mass) or in concentrated salt solutions (myofibrillar proteins, about 5.5 percent of mass). There are several hundred sarcoplasmic proteins. Most of them – the glycolytic enzymes – are involved in the glycolytic pathway, i.e., the conversion of stored energy into muscle power. The two most abundant myofibrillar proteins, myosin and actin, are responsible for the muscle's overall structure. The remaining protein mass consists of connective tissue (collagen and elastin) as well as organelle tissue.
Fat in meat can be either adipose tissue, used by the animal to store energy and consisting of "true fats" (esters of glycerol with fatty acids), or intramuscular fat, which contains considerable quantities of phospholipids and of unsaponifiable constituents such as cholesterol.
Meat can be broadly classified as "red" or "white" depending on the concentration of myoglobin in muscle fibre. When myoglobin is exposed to oxygen, reddish oxymyoglobin develops, making myoglobin-rich meat appear red. The redness of meat depends on species, animal age, and fibre type: Red meat contains more narrow muscle fibres that tend to operate over long periods without rest, while white meat contains more broad fibres that tend to work in short fast bursts.
Attesting to the long history of meat consumption in human civilizations, ritual slaughter has become part of the practice of several religions. These rituals, as well as other pre-industrial meat production methods such as these used by indigenous peoples, are not detailed here. This section will instead provide an overview of contemporary industrialized meat production in dedicated slaughterhouses from cattle, sheep and pigs.
Upon reaching a predetermined age or weight, livestock are transported en masse from the farm to the slaughterhouse, a process called "live export". Depending on its length and circumstances, this exerts stress and injuries on the animals, and some may die en route. Apart from being arguably inhumane, unnecessary stress in transport may adversely affect the quality of the meat. In particular, the muscles of stressed animals are low in water and glycogen, and their pH fails to attain acidic values, all of which results in poor meat quality. Consequently, and also due to campaigning by animal welfare groups, laws and industry practices in several countries tend to become more restrictive with respect to the duration and other circumstances of livestock transports.
Animals are slaughtered by being first stunned and then exsanguinated (bled out). Death results from the one or the other procedure, depending on the methods employed. Stunning can be effected through asphyxiating the animals with carbon dioxide, shooting them with a gun or a captive bolt pistol, or shocking them with electric current. In most forms of ritual slaughter, stunning is not allowed.
Draining as much blood as possible from the carcase is necessary because blood causes the meat to have an unappealing appearance and is a very good breeding ground for microorganisms. The exsanguination is accomplished by severing the carotid artery and the jugular vein in cattle and sheep, and the anterior vena cava in pigs.
After exsanguination, the carcase is dressed, that is, the head, feet, hide (except hogs and some veal), excess fat, viscera and offal are removed, leaving only bones and edible muscle. Cattle and pig carcases, but not those of sheep, are then split in half along the mid ventral axis, and the carcase is cut into wholesale pieces. The dressing and cutting sequence, long a province of manual labor, is progressively being fully automated.
Under hygienic conditions and without other treatment, meat can be stored at above its freezing point (–1.5 °C) for about six weeks without spoilage, during which time it undergoes an aging process that increases its tenderness and flavor.
During the first day after death, glycolysis continues until the accumulation of lactic acid causes the pH to reach about 5.5. The remaining glycogen, about 18 g per kg, is believed to increase the water-holding capacity and tenderness of the flesh when cooked. Rigor mortis sets in a few hours after death as ATP is used up, causing actin and myosin to combine into rigid actomyosin and lowering the meat's water-holding capacity, causing it to lose water ("weep"). In muscles that enter rigor in a contracted position, actin and myosin filaments overlap and cross-bond, resulting in meat that is tough on cooking – hence again the need to prevent pre-slaughter stress in the animal.
Over time, the muscle proteins denature in varying degree, with the exception of the collagen and elastin of connective tissue, and rigor mortis resolves. Because of these changes, the meat is tender and pliable when cooked just after death or after the resolution of rigor, but tough when cooked during rigor. As the muscle pigment myoglobin denatures, its iron oxidates, which may cause a brown discoloration near the surface of the meat. Ongoing proteolysis also contributes to conditioning. Hypoxanthine, a breakdown product of ATP, contributes to the meat's flavor and odor, as do other products of the discomposition of muscle fat and protein.
The spoilage of meat occurs, if untreated, in a matter of hours or days and results in the meat becoming unappetizing, poisonous or infectious. Spoilage is caused by the practically unavoidable infection and subsequent decomposition of meat by bacteria and fungi, which are borne by the animal itself, by the people handling the meat, and by their implements. Meat can be kept edible for a much longer time – though not indefinitely – if proper hygiene is observed during production and processing, and if appropriate food safety, food preservation and food storage procedures are applied. Without the application of preservatives and stabilizers, the fats in meat may also begin to rapidly decompose after cooking or processing, leading to an objectionable taste known as warmed over flavor.
Meat is prepared in many ways, as steaks, in stews, fondue, or as dried meat like beef jerky. It may be ground then formed into patties (as hamburgers or croquettes), loaves, or sausages, or used in loose form (as in "sloppy joe" or Bolognese sauce). Some meat is cured, by smoking, pickling, preserving in salt or brine (see salted meat and curing). Other kinds of meat are marinated and barbecued, or simply boiled, roasted, or fried. Meat is generally eaten cooked, but there are many traditional recipes that call for raw beef, veal or fish (tartare). Meat is often spiced or seasoned, as in most sausages. Meat dishes are usually described by their source (animal and part of body) and method of preparation.
Meat is a typical base for making sandwiches. Popular varieties of sandwich meat include ham, pork, salami and other sausages, and beef, such as steak, roast beef, corned beef, pepperoni, and pastrami. Meat can also be molded or pressed (common for products that include offal, such as haggis and scrapple) and canned.
|fish||110–140||20–25 g||0 g||1–5 g|
|chicken breast||160||28 g||0 g||7 g|
|lamb||250||30 g||0 g||14 g|
|steak (beef top round)||210||36 g||0 g||7 g|
|steak (beef T-bone)||450||25 g||0 g||35 g|
All muscle tissue is very high in protein, containing all of the essential amino acids, and in most cases is a good source of zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B6, iron and riboflavin. Several forms of meat are high in vitamin K2, which is only otherwise known to be found in fermented foods, with natto having the highest concentration. Muscle tissue is very low in carbohydrates and does not contain dietary fiber. The fat content of meat can vary widely depending on the species and breed of animal, the way in which the animal was raised, including what it was fed, the anatomical part of the body, and the methods of butchering and cooking. Wild animals such as deer are typically leaner than farm animals, leading those concerned about fat content to choose game such as venison. Decades of breeding meat animals for fatness is being reversed by consumer demand for meat with less fat.
Red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, contains many essential nutrients necessary for healthy growth and development in children. Nutrients in red meat include iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and protein. Most meats contain a full complement of the amino acids required for the human diet. Fruits and vegetables, by contrast, are usually lacking several essential amino acids contained in meat. It is for this reason that people who abstain from eating all meat need to plan their diet carefully to include sources of all the necessary amino acids (See Section Issues of Meat for more details) 
The table in this section compares the nutritional content of several types of meat. While each kind of meat has about the same content of protein and carbohydrates, there is a very wide range of fat content. It is the additional fat that contributes most to the calorie content of meat, and to concerns about dietary health.
[[File:|thumb|250px|Processed meat in an American supermarket]]
Ethical issues regarding the consumption of meat can include objections to the act of killing animals or the agricultural practices surrounding the production of meat. Reasons for objecting to the practice of killing animals for consumption may include animal rights, environmental ethics, religious doctrine, or an aversion to inflicting pain or harm on other sentient creatures. The religion of Jainism has always opposed eating meat, and there are also many schools of Buddhism and Hinduism that condemn the eating of meat. Some people, while not vegetarians, refuse to eat the flesh of certain animals, such as cats, dogs, horses, or rabbits, due to cultural or religious taboo. In some cases, specific meats (especially from pigs and cows) are forbidden within religious traditions. Some people eat only the flesh of animals which they believe have not been mistreated, and abstain from the meat of animals reared in factory farms or from particular products such as foie gras and veal.
Consumption of large quantities of meat, like overconsumption of any caloric food, has certain adverse effects which can include: obesity, heart disease, and constipation. The common misconception of "I can't eat unless there is meat" is largely due to cultural attitudes and how one is raised to think about food. In recent years, health concerns have been raised about the consumption of meat increasing the risk of cancer. In particular, red meat and processed meat were found to be associated with higher risk of cancers of the lung, esophagus, liver, and colon, among others, although also a reduced risk for some minor type of cancers. Another study found an increase risk of pancreatic cancer for red meat and pork. That study also suggests that fat and saturated fat are not likely contributors to pancreatic cancer. Animal fat, particularly from ruminants, tends to have a higher percentage of saturated fat vs. monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat when compared to vegetable fats, with the exception of some tropical plant fats; consumption of which has been correlated with various health problems. The saturated fat found in meat has been associated with significantly raised risks of colon cancer, although evidence suggests that risks of prostate cancer are unrelated to animal fat consumption. USDA claims (see Dietary Guidelines for Americans) that consumption of meat as a source of protein in the human diet is crucial, have been resoundingly contradicted by recent studies.
The correlation of meat consumption to increased risk of heart disease is controversial. Some studies fail to find a link between red meat consumption and heart disease (although the same study found statistically significant correlation between the consumption of processed meat and cancer), while another study, a survey ,conducted in 1960, of 25,153 California Seventh-Day Adventists, found that the risk of heart disease is three times greater for 45-64 year old men who eat meat daily, versus those who did not eat meat. In another study in 2010 involving over one million people who ate meat found that only processed meat had an adverse risk in relation to coronary heart disease. The study suggests that eating 50g (less than 2oz) of processed meat per day increases risk of coronary heart disease by 42%, and diabetes by 19%. Equivalent levels of fat, including saturated fats, in unprocessed meat (even when eating twice as much per day) did not show any deleterious effects, leading the researchers to suggest that "differences in salt and preservatives, rather than fats, might explain the higher risk of heart disease and diabetes seen with processed meats, but not with unprocessed red meats."
A 2009 study by the National Cancer Institute revealed a correlation between the consumption of red meat and increased mortality from cancer and cardiovascular diseases. This study has been criticized for using an improperly validated food frequency questionnaire, which has been shown to have low levels of accuracy.
In response to changing prices as well as health concerns about saturated fat and cholesterol, consumers have altered their consumption of various meats. A USDA report points out that consumption of beef in the United States between 1970–1974 and 1990–1994 dropped by 21%, while consumption of chicken increased by 90%. During the same period of time, the price of chicken dropped by 14% relative to the price of beef. In 1995 and 1996, beef consumption increased due to higher supplies and lower prices.
Several studies published since 1990 indicate that cooking muscle meat creates heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are thought to increase cancer risk in humans. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute published results of a study which found that human subjects who ate beef rare or medium-rare had less than one third the risk of stomach cancer than those who ate beef medium-well or well-done. While eating muscle meat raw may be the only way to avoid HCAs fully, the National Cancer Institute states that cooking meat below
Nitrosamines, present in processed and cooked foods, have been noted as being carcinogenic, being linked to colon cancer. Also, toxic compounds called PAHs, or Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, present in processed, smoked and cooked foods, are known to be carcinogenic.
Various forms of imitation meat have been created to satisfy people wishing to reduce or eliminate meat consumption for health, environmental, or ethical considerations, but who still wish to taste the flavor and texture of meat. They are typically some form of processed soybean, (tofu, tempeh), but they can also be based on wheat gluten or even fungus (quorn).
In vitro meat, also known as cultured meat, is animal flesh that has never been part of a complete, living animal. Several research projects are currently experimentally growing in vitro meat, but no meat has yet been produced for public consumption. The goal is to grow fully developed muscle organs, but the first generation will most likely be minced meat products.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. The FAO figure accounts for the entire meat production cycle - clearing forested land, making and transporting fertiliser, burning fossil fuels in agricultural machinery, and the front and rear end emissions of cattle and sheep. In tracking food animal production from the feed through to the dinner table, the inefficiencies of grain fed meat, milk and egg production range from a 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1, in the opinion of Roger Segelken.
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Third person singular
Beef is a type of meat. Beef comes from cows. There are different kinds of beef. Beef is quite popular in Argentina and the United States. Beef derives from the German word 'beife', meaning grazing beast. In the faith of Hinduism, it is forbidden to eat beef. Although Sikhs can eat beef, Sikhs in India do not eat beef out of respect for Hindus.
Beef can also mean a rivalry or feud between people in slang.