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Certified Angus Prime

Fat Guy

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Hi Mr. Lobel.

Do you have an opinion on Certified Angus Beef in general, and specifically the Certified Angus Prime that seems to be available at a few steakhouses around the country? Is it a legitimate product or just a lot of hype?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Thanks for the great question, Steven.

The first thing to keep in mind is that Certified Angus Beef (CAB)

designates a brand not a breed. And just as any brand from soft drinks

to refrigerators, markets its brand, so CAB is supported by promotional

strategies and tactics to gain a competitive advantage in the

marketplace through brand recognition and customer loyalty.

CAB prime brings a tiered pricing strategy into the marketing mix.

The physical characteristics established to distinguish CAB from other

Angus and crossbreeds include no hump and no floppy ears. But Angus beef

is common. In fact, the majority of beef we sell comes from Angus

crossbred cattle, but does not come under the CAB brand.

As far as the quality of the product, you'll find a greater difference

in CAB Choice which comes from the upper 2/3s of Angus cattle when

compared to unbranded USDA choice. The visual difference, as always, is

in the degree of marbling. There is less difference between USDA prime

and CAB prime.

So when you are in a restaurant, the real taste and texture differences

between USDA prime and CAB prime are the same distinctions you'd make

when comparing any prime graded beef: How was it aged (wet or dry) and

how long was it aged. And, you'll find that the length of aging can vary

greatly ... from only a few days. At Lobel's we dry age beef for up to

42 days. If the menu doesn't tell you, ask your server about how they

age their meat ... if at all.


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