A math lesson and 3D (or 4D) meat

I have been getting a lot of questions and a few comments about beef prices, where does the Meat that Texas Tripe uses come from, and what is 3D meat?   I am going to answer those questions and help you to understand a little bit how the meat industry works.  Also with the knowledge that you will get from the math lesson, you will be able to tell right away what kind of meat you are dealing with.   I am going to use some round numbers to make it easier to understand and while the prices might not be actual, the way the math works is the same.

But first what is 3D or 4D meat?  Some of you know the answer to that question.  For the sake of simplicity I am going to refer to it as 3D meat. It is a question that has been asked to me many times over the last several years, and No I do not use 3D meat.   3D meat is from animals that are Dead, Down, or Diseased, the 4th D which some people use is Dying – if an animal is Down it is getting ready to die!  I have seen a lot of these kind of animals over the last 20+ years.  I am still surprised what some people are ready to take a chance on simply because they dont want to “lose it”  We used to process some of these animals as the owners would insist.  But no more.   Too many times they end up giving it to someone else because they “don’t like it” Not only do they lose the meat but they also lose the money that was put into the processing of it.

Now for the Math lesson. We buy mama cows from the sale barn that have come off of pasture.   State and Federal regulations will not allow anything to come into my plant that is not ambulatory or in other words “that can not walk in under its own power”.  Lets assume that the cow weighs 1000 lbs. live and that we have paid .25 per lb. for her.  We have $250 out of pocket for the cow.  When we harvest this animal and eviscerate it, also removing the hide, head and feet we typically end up with a weight on the rail of around 500 lbs. so now we have a cost of .50 per lb on what is hanging.  We also have just incurred a charge of $30 for the man to do his deed.  The next step is boning,  These animals will end up with around a 50% bone out, meaning that the 500 lb. carcass will possibly yield 250 lbs. of meat which we then can grind to make burger or in the case of pet food “beef blend” This will incur a charge of .60 per lb. on the starting weight (cleaned carcass) of 500 lbs. which would add $300 to the meat.   OK Lets review,  we have 250 lbs. of meat with a starting cost of $250 to which we have added $300, for processing and $30 for killing which brings us to a total of $580.  $580 divided by 250 lbs of finished, packaged product is $2.32 per lb.   We have been able to buy these animals for a little less then .25 which helps our price a little.  However if you are buying meat for less then $1 per lb. it is more then likely 3D meat. I have had one company call me and offer this product for .35 per lb.  Quite obvious to me where it came from.

Another issue I hear quite a bit is one regarding the use of charcoal or other “denaturant”, which is supposed to render it “not fit for Human Consumption”  one plant I know of uses green food coloring to make his inspector happy.   Meat that is safe for human consumption does not need denaturant or charcoal added to it. All of the poultry products I buy come from USDA inspected plants and in theory could be used for human consumption – backs or frames can be boiled for soup stock, and there is quite a bit of meat on the frames. Obviously once we grind these products with the bone in it it is changed into “inedible”.   One exception on the beef is the green tripe as the only tripe that will pass the inspector is the scaled and bleached variety.

We have two separate facilities where we process pet food and human edible food.  Both of these are inspected by the Texas Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)  We are held accountable for proper labeling and sanitation in all areas of our operations.  We also are inspected for cross-contamination insuring that products are not co-mingled.

to be added on to.