Q & A: Meat with Bones

I order meat from my son-in-law’s chavruta. He gets the meat from South America and it is usually very good. One of the items on the brochure is called Spare Rib Fingers and it is listed as #9. However, with the exception of one time, it is never available. He asked why and they said something about it being illegal because of the meat being too close to the bone (???). Do you have any idea about what this situation is?

Well, illegal it isn’t, but impractical it very much is.

The way I know it isn’t illegal is mostly through deductive reasoning [HUGE Sherlock fan in all his incarnations].

First, on the Ministry of Agriculture’s site, under their Office of Veterinary Service is a list from 2011 on all meat producers who are permitted to import into Israel, the list of what can be imported, and there is a special column for whether it is on the bone or not. The link to that file is here. Now I’m sure that the law hasn’t changed that drastically since 2011. But it could have.

Next is lamb quarters as well as sheep’s heads for the holidays. There’s plenty of bones in those pieces, and it is all frozen import.

Third is economics. It’s more cost effective and space effective to pack solid cuts of meat into neat little boxes. Bones stick out in all sorts of weird places, making empty spaces in those boxes, which you don’t want to do. They could also be keeping the bones and grinding them into bone meal for cattle feed.

And lastly, I too have purchased frozen asado, with bones, on occasion. Usually we get it fresh, although I suppose it could be defrosted for all I know.

So I hope that clears up that misconception. Of course, if anyone can direct me to a place where it says explicitly — In Hebrew or in English — that it is illegal, I will retract the post and thank you for clarifying the matter definitively.

Here’s a fun fact: Kosher meat can only be imported into Israel if the veterinary service of the Ministry of Agriculture has visited and approved the facility where the cattle is processed. Which explains why kosher meat from the US is rare; it’s most likely indignation and pique.