Quick, have you had Kobe beef here in the U.S.A?
Not only has Japanese beef not been allowed in the country for the past two years, but true Kobe beef has never been exported to here.
In fact, no matter how much you have spent, how fancy a steakhouse you went to, or how many burger joints that feature “Kobe beef” you've been to, you have not had it.
Under Japanese law, Kobe beef can only came from Hyogo prefecture, where no slaughterhouses were approved for export by the USDA.
The Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association in Japan, where Kobe Beef is a registered trademark, says that Macao is the only place it is exported to. EVEN THAT WAS JUST STARTED LAST YEAR!
If you HAVE somehow had real Kobe beef here in the States, well, we hope you enjoyed your disgustingly smuggled meat.
So, how can this happen?
Well the term "Kobe" IS trademarked, but only in Japan. So that moniker means absolutely nothing here, and isn't regulated at all. Just like how all these food companies are duping you ('natural' doesn't really mean anything anymore), you're being tricked into buying food.
You're buying marked-up normal beef or "faux-be" beef from somewhere else in the world. The point is, it's not real Kobe beef — and you totally thought it was.
So, what IS real Kobe beef?
This is real Kobe beef:
Kobe beef is produced under some of the world’s strictest legal food standards. In Japan, to be Kobe requires a pure lineage of Tajima-gyu breed cattle (not any old Japanese breed crossbred with American cattle as is the norm here). The animal must also have been born in Hyogo prefecture and thus raised on the local grasses and water and terroir its entire life. It must be a bull or virgin cow, and it takes considerably longer to raise a Tajima-gyu for consumption than most other breeds, adding to the cost. It must be processed in a Hyogo slaughterhouse – none of which export to the US – and then pass a strict government grading exam. There are only 3000 head of certified Kobe Beef cattle in the world, and none are outside Japan. The process is so strict that when the beef is sold, either in stores or restaurants, it must carry the 10-digit identification number so customers know what particular Tajima-gyu cow it came from.
So if you don't want to waste your money on fake Kobe beef, you'll just have to eat some when you get to Japan!
Someone needs to control the food industry, we can't stand liars.
[Image via AP Images.]