Why beef is losing its flavor
Feedlots have begun giving cattle a drug that causes the animal to bulk up on muscle, losing fat in the process.
Feedlots have begun giving cattle a new drug with a curious side effect: It makes steaks less flavorful and juicy, Slate reports. But the drug, Zilmax, helps cattle bulk up on muscle in the last few weeks of their lives -- which brings in more money for feedlot owners.
Zilmax was originally created to help people with asthma, Christopher Leonard writes on Slate. But animal researchers found that it makes animals produce more muscle and less fat. That means there are more pounds of beef to sell, but the meat doesn't have that glorious marbling that turns a steak into a masterpiece on the grill.
Zilmax is sold by Merck Animal Health, one of the fastest-growing units of Merck (MRK). On its website, Merck describes Zilmax as "a feed supplement that enables an animal’s natural metabolism to more efficiently convert feed energy to lean, healthy, delicious beef."
Four major meat companies control 85% of the market, Leonard writes, and they reportedly all use Zilmax now. They include Tyson Foods (TSN), JBS SA (JBSAF), Cargill and National Beef Packing Co. Cargill reportedly resisted using Zilmax for years, but finally got on board last year when everyone else was doing it.
Last year's drought made it even easier for Merck to sell Zilmax. Farmers were forced to keep herds low, in fact the size of the U.S. cattle herd fell to its smallest since 1952. But Zilmax lets a feedlot owner get more meat from the cow without having to give it any additional food and water. Leonard reported that the drug could add 33 pounds of extra meat to a cow, making the animal about $30 more valuable.
Merck Animal Health says that Zilmax doesn't cause the quality of steaks to suffer, and that people can't tell the difference between beef that has and has not been treated with the drug.
Zilmax usage has really taken off since 2011. If Merck is right, you may have not noticed a thing. But if you've wondered recently why steak suddenly seems more muscular, less fatty and a bit more bland, now you have your answer.
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I'll be the judge of that.
Now just what can those poor devils trapped living in big cities do about it? Nothing! Just eat the crap.
Those in smaller towns can buy meat from a local kill house or butcher shop. The cattle eat ggrass and hay, yum yum! You can grow your own chickens and prcess them. You will be amazed what REAL chicken tastes like. And then there's rabbits. You do not have to eat this crap.
I also noticed that it is real tuff to chew and that sometimes you get a cut of meat that has a really nasty taste to it. I really don't by steak that much anymore because of those reason.
I would like to clarify a few issues. All cattle are grass-fed during the beginnings of their lives. Ranchers would love to be able to feed their herds more grass, but they don’t have grass. There is a draught on the western half of the United States. This is why herds are much smaller or non-existant. Cattle go to feedlots to receive high nutrition feed to finish off their ‘bulking up’. Before that animal can proceed to becoming your steak or roast, it has a waiting period and testing to make sure any chemical residue is gone from the meat. So you are not feeding your children ‘chemicals’ when you feed them a beef product. Less tasty? Taste comes from the fat and marbling content of the meat. The consumer is demanding a leaner product. When you remove the marbling from the meat, it does tend to become less tender and flavorful. The use at home of marinades and rubs will enhance the flavor of the meat while preserving its leaness. It all depends on what you want to eat. So please pray for rain so there is grass to feed the cattle. And pray for the rancher who is working 24 hours a day, no matter what the weather, to care for his cattle and his land.
As usual people fall for the promise of 33 more pounds of extra meat...quantity not quality. Reminds of the SNL skit Russian brides. Media has been dumbing us hown and retailers numbing us into thinking we are getting a deal that actually compromises Mother Nature and our health.
I will continue to harvest White-tailed deer. The meat is lean and tender with no steroids or other drugs.
Add in some wild duck and pheasant or rabbit for variety and I never have to purchase these disease causing meats.
I realize the American farmer/rancher will suffer if a lot of people follow my example but better him suffering than me.
not from a store meat wise. We all share. Hunters, farmers and fisherman. It works out really well
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