Truth in advertising: When you order Kobe beef – do you know what you are getting?

A friend of mine who is a culinary expert (at least in my eyes:-) ) forwarded the article from Forbes that talk about Kobe beef.

Surprisingly (or not) there’s no real Kobe beef in the US. None whatsoever. And that’s a pity, because it is supposedly one of the best meats there are.

Why is it so? First and foremost it is so because Kobe beef is a very specific kind of beef raised in Kobe area of Japan. And Japanese beef is banned in the US (for whatever reason, don’t know and don’t care for the sake of this discussion). So, there’s no legal way to import real Kobe beef into the US.

So what are all those “Kobe” dishes we see on the menu? Lies.

Here’s the full article from Forbes, part 1 and part 2. The writer, Larry Olmstead, describes in great details how big the lie is and how much money consumers are scammed of.

Apparently, there are no laws protecting foreign trademarks in the US. So there’s nothing illegal in putting “Kobe” beef that’s not a real Kobe beef on the menu. That’s not new to me; I’ve noticed the same issue with Champagne: you can find wines labeled as “Champagne” in the US stores that were grown in the US. In case you don’t know, everywhere else in the world, “Champagne” wine is wine that was produced, not surprisingly, in Champagne – area in France. Not any sparkling wine is Champagne, as not any brandy is Cognac, not any whisky is Scotch, and not any fortified wine is Porto.

Explanation: Cognac is a kind of brandy has to meet certain French certification requirements, and is originally from the Cognac area in France; Champagne is a sparkling wine produced in Champagne, France; Scotch is a whiskey made in Scotland. Anyone who knows their liquor knows that.

So would you buy a “Domestic Hennessy”? “Johnnie Walker style whiskey”? “Soviet Champagne”? ( The latter is in fact a real brand, very popular in the ex-USSR republics, and it is claimed that the French had actually authorized its use)

So why do people by “Kobe” beef that has nothing to do with Kobe? I would guess its ignorance and very good PR. Well, here you are, consider yourself informed!

Your Little Advisor.

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