These days, restaurants, cafes and even fast food outlets are advertising the specific type of beef they use. No doubt you’ve been seeing an abundance of Angus or Wagyu beef descriptions on menus. But most people don’t know the difference between the two or even what each of the names mean.
We’ve broken it down so the next time you choose a steak or burger you know what you’re paying for!
Angus beef comes from a breed of cattle called Aberdeen Angus which are originally from Scotland. This meant that the cattle needed to be sturdy enough to survive the harsh Scottish winters. Because of this, Angus beef have significant muscle content which means the meat has greater marbling qualities.
Marbling is argued by many to improve the tenderness and flavour of the meat. But that’s not the only reason marbling is important. In Australia it is one of the factors which is used to determine the “grade” of the beef. However, Meat Standards Australia recognises that although marbling proves to have a positive effect on the eating quality of beef, it is not the only thing that can affect it. The MSA takes into a number of things when grading beef and looks at how all the factors interact with each other to determine the eating quality.
Therefore, even though Angus beef is renowned for its tenderness and marbling qualities you may still come across a bad piece of Angus if the other grading factors aren’t up to scratch or if it is not MSA approved.
Angus was introduced to Australia in 1820’s, and there are now herds in every state. Meaning that any Australian Angus beef you come across should be both tender and flavoursome.
Wagyu Beef has its origins in Japan and doesn’t just relate to one breed of cattle, but a number of different breeds which come from the area. The name itself is used to explain the meat: “wa” means Japanese and “gyu” means beef. The cattle that fall into the category of wagyu beef have a high degree of marbling and because of this are regarded as high quality and demand a high price. Pure wagyu beef is considered luxurious and is why sub-breeds have appeared in places like Australia and the US. However, these sub-breeds are not “traditional” wagyu and may not carry the same properties as it.
The great news is that the wagyu bred in Australia is the largest outside of Japan and contains both fullblood and crossbreeds.
But with all this information does this mean you are getting what you pay for when the menu says Angus or Wagyu?
The nature of the situation means that many beef products can claim to be wagyu when they only have a minor percentage of wagyu in their bloodline. This also means it can be used as clever marketing trick for companies and restaurants to charge more and take advantage of the lower amount of consumer knowledge.
So what are you looking for when purchasing wagyu?
Wagyu is defined as the following:
- Fullblood Wagyu (100%): It is is the offspring of two full blood wagyu cattle whose pedigree doesn’t show any cross-breeding.
- Purebred Wagyu (F4 93+%): It has 93% or higher Wagyu genetics.
- Crossbred Wagyu (F3 87+%): It has 87% or higher Wagyu genetics.
- Crossbred Wagyu (F2 75%): It has 75% or higher Wagyu genetics.
- Crossbred Wagyu (F1 50%): it has 50% or higher Wagyu genetics.
*Taken from The Australian Wagyu Association website which you can find by clicking here.
On the other hand, the most important thing to look out for when purchasing Angus beef is that it is MSA approved. The MSA grade beef on the amount of marbling, the weight, whether hormonal growth promotants were used and a number of other things. The MSA aim to deliver excellent quality and consistently so you can rest assured you will be purchasing great quality meat if it is MSA approved.