Frozen beef sold as fresh cut often looks like this when thawed
Readers who watch the Israeli Kolbotek consumer watchdog show on Channel 2, may have seen the recent show dealing with the unsavory way some of the country’s beef products are being “imported” into Israel; and how they are being sold to the general public. Examples of poor quality, and often tainted meat products being sold as quality and inspected ones, was featured last Tuesday on Kolbotek, and which also included eggs: both which often originate from the Palestinian Authority.
Fresh or frozen? You figure it out.
The scenario happens like this: you buy what appears to be a fresh beef chuck or shoulder roast that’s being sold in the local supermarket at a very attractive price. The roast looks fresh and has an appealing red color. What you may not know is that the meat that you think is “fresh” is actually thawed out frozen meat being sold as a fresh cut. And unless you know how to tell the difference, you may never know that you’re being had.
Another example of being the victim of unsavory meat marketing practices is eating a steak in a restaurant that may have come from beef being illegally smuggled into Israel in false bottoms or walls of trucks, without veterinary inspection, or refrigeration.
The Kolbotek video clips showed beef packed in boxes and smuggled into Israel inside (of all things) the holding tank of a septic tank cleaning truck! Another clip shows the beef packed behind false walls in a large truck. In both cases, no refrigeration was evident; and according to a Health Ministry inspector the meat may have been subjected to temperatures as high as 60 degrees Celsius before reaching its final destination.
The same treatment happens to eggs as well; and it was shown that large quantities of eggs reach Israel in false bottoms of trucks, and are also subjected to high temperatures before finally being offered for sale in open air markets at “special prices”. Now people can really see what they are buying when they shop for beef and eggs in their local shuk. And of course, these eggs also find their way to the large bakeries and “konditorias” that make the burekas and cakes we all love.
Returning to the frozen vs fresh beef issue, the program pointed out how one can find out whether that attractive looking piece of beef in the super market fridge is really a fresh cut or one that was originally frozen. By poking the piece with your finger, a fresh piece leaves a hole where your finger was. In the formerly frozen piece, no mark remains. This is an indication that water has been added to the frozen meat for more weight as well as to help it retain its shape. Readers may recall Miriam Kresh’s informative article on frozen fish being imported into Israel from China – phosphates, added water and all.
It’s the same idea, folks, just a different animal.
A very good article about the frozen vs fresh meat issue came out in Haaretz over a year ago, in which it was noted by a prominent chef, Eyal Levy, that “Israelis love buying large quantities of a product (in this case meat) at low prices.”
In reference to buying meat, he pointed out that in the case of buying either fresh of frozen meat one gets what one pays for.
Read more on meat issues: