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How To Slaughter And Process A Beef?

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Beef carcasses held in cold storage for further processing

The other day I read in the newspapers that according to a National survey, almost 75% of elementary school goers, and a staggering 18% of adults did not know how the food that they ate was produced! 


This is why I thought of writing this blog on how to slaughter and process a beef, so that all those who thought beef is manufactured in some concrete plant out of some chemicals, realize what they are actually eating!


So, for those of you are not aware, Beef comes from cattle or rather Beef is nothing but cow’s meat. And how is an animal converted into delectable cuts of meat…that is what I am going to talk about here….


• The slaughter process begins in various certified slaughter houses. Here the right aged and sized cattle are received and herded in holding pens.


• The animals are then given a high voltage electric shock on the head to stun them and render them unconscious – this way they won’t feel the pain of slaughtering. 

• The hind legs are tied to the processing line, so that the animals hang upside down and the neck is slit, this cuts the main arteries (carotid) and veins (jugular). Due to the gravity, most of the blood drains out (animal dies of severe blood loss) and the animal is then beheaded. 

• The legs are removed, and the area around the digestive tract is cut to prevent fecal contamination of the muscles. The animal’s hind is then removed using pullers (industrially) or with skinning knives (country farms). 

• The animal is then eviscerated i.e., all internal organs and the gut is removed. Each of these organs is then tested for any sign of disease. And only the perfectly healthy carcasses are sent for further processing. This completes the slaughtering process.

Diagram indicating the various primal cuts of beef

• The carcasses are then treated with steam, hot water, and/or organic acids to prevent microbial contamination. Sometimes the carcass is electrically stimulated to improve the tenderness of the final meat. In certain countries the animal might be injected with a meat tenderizing enzyme before slaughtering – this method is banned in many states. The carcass is then chilled till further processing.


• The processing of the beef carcass involves cutting the meat into various primal cuts and non primal cuts. For this the carcass is typically cut into horizontal halves and then quarters. The cuts of meat are then packed and transported to the retail market. 

• The rest of the carcass is then deboned and processed in meat extractors to take out all the residual traces of meat – this is lower grade meat and rarely used for direct human consumption.

•  The tallow (animal fat) collected is processed in the rendering plats and used either for human consumption or for industrial use (many a times, tallow may be used to produce biodiesel).  

So, this is the story of the juicy tender piece of beef brisket or fillet mignon that you so love to relish.   

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How To Slaughter And Process A Beef?