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Meat Cutting Methods

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The absolute lack of standardization in the retail meat industry becomes particularly noticeable when the various meat cutting methods as practiced in different sections throughout the United States are studied. Practically every retailer in a given locality uses a slightly different method of cutting. Every retailer has his own idea as to what is the best method of cutting up a carcass. Therefore, a great difference of opinion exists as to what is the most advantageous method of cutting up meats, and there is at the present time no set standard style of meat cutting.

Reasons for Cutting Meats Certain Ways

The meat retailer is in business for profit and it is his ultimate object to cut up a carcass to make the maximum profit and at the same time give the customers the best satisfaction and service. In collecting meat cutting data from all sections of the United States, the following question was asked of the retailer : What is your reason for cutting meat in this particular way ?" Practically every retailer answered that the trade demanded it, while a few replied that more money could be cut out of a carcass if cut that certain style. It is evident therefore, that the majority of retailers have their own standards, which in turn are governed and influenced by the demands of the trade.

The trade demand for certain cuts is again traceable to either the traditions or buying habits of the public. Such traditions or buying habits are very noticeable in certain localities throughout the United States. According to investigations made among retailers in many cities, the buying public resents the change from a particular style of cutting to another style, and insists upon cuts to which it is accustomed. Therefore, retailers follow the line of least resistance, giving the public what it calls for.

As an illustration, the pin-bone roast is a familiar cut in the Greater Philadelphia district, but is practically unknown elsewhere. Inasmuch as the trade demands pin-bone roasts, the Philadelphia retailer is practically compelled to cut the meat that way. In Greater New York City the method of cutting is different, being unlike that in any other part of the United States. Retailers in Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island, also cut differently. In Texas and certain southern states, there is considerable variation in cutting methods. The closest resemblance to a certain standard in meat cutting seems to be the style most used throughout the entire middle-west and west where meats are cut up according to a certain standard.

Influence of Foreign Population

Investigations further disclose that where very peculiar methods of meat cutting exist, they show the influence of the foreign population settled in that particular locality. The style of cutting used in Boston and Providence resembles somewhat the practices in use in European countries, especially England and France. This method is therefore traceable to traditions of the early English and French settlers in New England.

In localities settled by the Germans, one also finds demands for certain cuts of meat. As an illustration, shoulders of veal are mostly cut up into chops in the greater part of the United States. But where there is a large German population, there is usually a demand for raised shoulder of veal, which is then boned so that it can be stuffed by the housewife of German descent. The Italian population also insists upon certain cuts similar to those they have been in the habit of using in Italy. Therefore, meat cutting methods are hard to standardize unless the demands of the people for special cuts can be changed.

Education of Public Required

To accomplish this change requires a great deal of educational work, not alone on the part of the retailer, but of all agencies interested in trying to standardize meat cutting methods. The retailer may not care so much what particular cut his trade may demand as long as he makes a certain amount of profit at the same time. From this standpoint it may be immaterial just how a retailer cuts up a carcass. A standardized meat cutting method is, however, very desirable from the standpoint of working out standardized cutting tests as a guide for the retailer. When this is accomplished, it will greatly simplify the method of arriving at a correct cost and selling price.

The drawings which show the various styles of meat cutting and the cutting tests have been furnished by meat retailers, in the various sections of the country. In these sketches individual styles of cutting have been ignored and that method of meat cutting typical of the community sketched.

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