European Beef

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Other beef-loving countries raise their cattle differently and have produced distinctive beefs. Italy prefers young meat from animals slaughtered at 16–18 months. Until the advent of BSE, much French and British beef came from dairy stock several years old. According to a standard French handbook, Technologie Culinaire (1995), the meat of an animal less than two years old is “completely insipid,” while meat “at the summit of quality” comes from a steer three to four years old. But because the risk of an animal having BSE rises as it grows older, a number of countries now require that meat cattle be slaughtered at less than three years of age. In 2004, most French and British beef came from animals no older than 30 months.