Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nomenclature III

OK, this is the kind of thing that just bugs me. The ad to the right appears in this weeks circular for Tops Supermarkets. It is clearly a marketing ploy rather than an accurate description of the product for sale. The term "Prime Rib" refers, or should refer, to beef. Whether it it actually is, or should be USDA Prime Beef is a subject for debate. The Food Lover's Tiptionary says it must be Prime Beef. Webster's New World Dictionary of Culinary Arts disagrees. The Penguin Companion to Food is silent.

The ultimate arbiter is the USDA's 2003 publication: Food Standards and Labelling Policy Book, which says:

These products do not have to be derived from USDA prime grade beef.

I have a problem with that. By this definition, technically a rib roast from a Commercial or Utility Grade hunk of beef could be sold as prime rib. Now, in the interest of honesty, I must say that Prime Rib is not something I crave. Take the same cut of meat and cut it into thick, bone-in steaks to toss on the grill and I am fine. Roast it whole and it tastes like a hunk of boogers. But like Prime Rib of beef or not, the concept of a "prime rib" of pork just doesn't exist except in the pin heads of the pinheads of some marketing department. It may be the rib section of some piggy, but since the have bred the fat out of pork to create "the other white meat" you won't get
the mouthfeel of a Choice Standing Rib Roast, let alone a Prime Cut.

The problem is that consumers are gullible. They'll think they are getting something special.

Just tell us what we are getting.

Rant Off!


ntsc said...

The problem is that Prime Rib had the name before the grading system.

I don't know if a Prime Rib roast has the first rib or the best rib, but both are allowed definitions of the word 'prime'. The meat grade is a third as is the mathematical term meaning 'divisiable only by itself and 1'. There are probably others.

I used to have a wonderful butcher who sold 'secondary' rib roast. It did not include the 4 best ribs, but was a lot cheaper.

I agree with you on such terms used on 'the other white meat' I like fat on these and white isn't the color I like.

Darcie said...

"The problem is that consumers are gullible. They'll think they are getting something special."

I think that is actually being kind. Most consumers are clueless at best and willfully ignorant at worst.

Most people don't read labels and apparently don't care what they are eating. For example, a woman was carefully inspecting a package of chicken breasts at my local grocer one day. I said something like, "isn't it a shame that they inject stuff into the meat so you are paying for water." She looked dumbfounded - and she had supposedly been reading the package. Sorry, I'll quit ranting now.

Scotty said...

Darcie, you are welcome to rant here any time! Even better is the time my wife was going down the pop aisle and heard the delight of a couple over their discovery that Ginger Ale was now "cholesterol free". However, a big share of the blame goes to markets and marketers.

ntsc, you are correct, but the fact that food authorities still screw it up is a problem, and the fact that you can legally sell lower grade meat almost adds it to the "London Broil" category. But, pork is right out.

The horror is that if you put these two comments together they foresee someone selling a water filled bone-in chicken breast and calling it Prime Rib of Chicken.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -