Dark Cutter - and what this weird term means for locally-raised meat

| 9/12/2011 1:12:04 PM

When working with commercial feed lot beef (which is typically what's sold in large supermarket chains as well as many smaller markets) there's a process that meat goes through as it's being cut down from large "primal cuts" into the retail cuts people buy.

This process is called "bloom", and it takes about 5 minutes. When commercial feed lot beef blooms, it turns a very bright, almost artificially red color. This is not the natural color of beef.

When a piece of meat is what is called a “dark cutter,” it does not bloom. It will be a very dark purplish-blackish color, and will also have a sticky texture - so much so that at times it will leave a buildup of residue on the butcher's knife. The meat will be dryer and tougher.

meatpicWhat's going on here?

A stressed animal. A dark cutter is an animal which is stressed at the time of slaughter. The stress can be caused by a variety of reasons: transport of the animal to the slaughterhouse, putting the animal into a pen with too many other animals, or just a naturally high-strung animal. The animal may be sick, or may have been inhumanely treated.

Based on my personal experience working in a slaughterhouse, as well as news reports that have surfaced in recent years, I tend to believe that the latter is the most common cause. Inhumane treatment. I'm underlining this because there are ethical issues that ought to be considered here.

12/26/2011 3:55:55 PM

The point of this article is what? I have cut a lot of meat too, and find this to be just unsupported talk. Question if it is even a real article. Certainly no references to back anything up, just some weird talk by someone with an agenda it would appear!

Robin Elmer
9/14/2011 6:37:38 PM

So are you saying that if we see this dark meat at the supermarket we shouldn't buy it? Good to know. But I have a quesiton. You said the bright red "bloom" color is not natural. What should the beef look like? And what exactly is this "bloom" process? Will grass-fed/hormone-and-antibiotic-free beef do this too?

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