Shokuiku Vol.3 How to choose safer meat

Japanese modern lifestyle

Hi it’s the shokuiku series! We can improve our skill to choose the better food for family’s health by being aware of the fact. It’s based on the shokuiku (food education) study of “Develop the ability to choose what to eat”.

Do you eat meat?

Today’s topic is meat which we have a lot of chance to eat in daily basis. You will be more confident how to choose meat after you read this! Let’s check it out!

3 points to choose meat

At local supermarket

There are a lot of kinds of meat available at supermarkets. Many producers, many producing areas, various prices etc..

Where do you normally purchase your meat? How do you choose from a lot of selection?

These are the 3 points that you should know when you buy meat.

1. Look carefully at the label

2. Avoid meat that is too cheap

3. Recommended with less fat


Let’s check one by one!

Check carefully the label

So what should we start? The answer is to check the label! There are a lot of information about the food on the label. For example…

  • Place of origin
  • Parts of the meat
  • Date of package/Expired date
  • Price
  • Traceability number

And for meat, “place of origin” and “traceability number” are especially key points.

Place of origin

In some counties such as US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, fattening hormones are currently allowed. Fattening hormone promotes the growth of livestock, and they adopt it because they can efficiently commercialize the livestock in a short period of time.

The use of hormones in livestock is prohibited in Japan, but the import of hormone-administered meat from overseas is permitted.

WHO has approved the use of hormones that have little effect on the human body by providing appropriate hormone administration and hormone-free periods. However, we can avoid foods that are made in a different way from nature as much as possible.

Also, it should be considered from the perspective of animal welfare. Fattening hormone is used for “profit” reason only. We can make a firm choice by choosing the right one.

Traceability number

A traceability number

Livestock raised in Japan are required to have a traceability number. If you access the URL (or call them) on the label and enter the number, you can check the place of birth and breeding place of the meat, the producer, food, and antibiotics given to prevent illness etc.

I understand it’s difficult to check all products you buy but it is recommended that you check the meat you regularly buy.

But in fact, there are items without traceability numbers even though they said it’s domestic meat. I visited to my local supermarket and found out only about 10% was with a trackability numbers at the meat corner.

I asked the stuff and he explained. Even thought it’s required some meat like a package of scraps of meat cannot be traced because it is usually mixed with various parts to make a package.

It’s often written in 切落とし(Kiriotoshi) and こま切れ(Komagire) . These are very convenient items and usually reasonable. But if you wish to know the detail of the meat, better to choose the traceable ones.

Avoid meat that is too cheap

There is a reason for it being cheap. For efficient production, it is fed high-calorie food and is crammed in a small room without any exercise. Antibiotics may also be given to prevent illness. For example, chicken called “young chicken (Wakadori in Japanese)” is mass-produced in a short period of time and shipped in less than three months. I would say it’s too cheap if it’s under 100yen/g.

Compared to that, Wagyu, Jidori (local chicken), and brand pigs are expensive, but they are bred in a way that is close to nature without stressing livestock. They are highly safe in terms of hygiene and quality.

However, the distribution volume of this kind of safer meat is small. For example, brand pigs amount is only 2% of the total market. Therefore, be careful of expensive counterfeit goods. If you are seeking for a brand pork, make sure there is a proper brand proof label at the shop before purchasing.

Recommended with less fat

For beef, marbled meat (Shimofuri in Japanese) is popular both domestically and internationally, but high-calorie food is given to grow marbled meat.

In comparison, lean beef is fed grass-based, high-fiber food, which is closer to nature. Lean meat is low-fat but contains more protein than other parts. Protein is said to help repair fatigue by repairing damaged skin cells during the day’s activity. If you are running or going to the gym for your health, eating lean meat after exercising will help you gain muscle and make it harder for you to gain weight.

In recent years, more attention has been paid to healthier lean meat.

Develop the skill to choose!

With a little learning, you can buy safer foods wisely. Let’s make good choices for the health of growing children and working hard families.

See you in the next Shokuiku column!


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