Fake Food: That's Not Kobe Beef You're Eating | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Fake Food: That's Not Kobe Beef You're Eating

Play associated audio

An increasing number of restaurants in the U.S. display signature dishes made with Kobe beef. From Kobe steak raviolis to Kobe beef burgers, you name it, Kobe beef seems to be popping up everywhere — except it's not Kobe beef.

Food writer Larry Olmsted of Forbes.com couldn't help but notice the trend and decided to bust everyone's bubble in a three-part expose of the so-called domestic Kobe beef industry.

What we've thought was Kobe beef was most likely U.S.-raised beef, Olmsted tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz, not the expensive delicacy raised in Japan.

"You can guarantee that it was not real Kobe beef because real Kobe beef from Japan is not imported in the United States at all," he says.

Under Japanese law, real Kobe beef actually comes from a particular breed of cow known as Tajima.

"Most importantly," Olmsted says, "they have to be slaughtered in Hyogo prefecture where none of the slaughter houses are approved by the USDA for export," he tells Raz.

So, how is it possible that Kobe beef is advertised all across the U.S.? While Kobe cattlemen in Japan have both patent and trademarks on the different terminology for Kobe beef, U.S. law does not recognize or protect these trademarks.

"So, we can call pretty much anything we want Kobe," Olmsted says. "The Department of Agriculture cares that when you call something beef, it's beef, and that's about it."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Weekend Musher Finds Dogs Keep Her Hanging On

Julia Bayly of Fort Kent, Maine, works as a reporter at the Bangor Daily News. Her passion outside of work is dog sledding. It's the latest installment in our hobby series "Alter Egos."
NPR

When Zero Doesn't Mean Zero: Trans Fats Linger In Food

One in 10 packaged foods still contains trans fats, according to a new study. The problematic oils give foods a rich taste and texture and extend shelf life, but have been linked to heart disease.
NPR

Rep. Ryan Calls For 'Culture Of Inclusion' To Tackle Poverty

Congressman and former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan discusses his new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.
NPR

New Amazon Series Pilots Fall Short Of A TV Revolution

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans ranks Amazon's new batch of five series pilots, asking why none of them seem break the rules of TV quite enough to draw attention.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.