The U.S. government has given Ireland the go-ahead to export beef to America, making its rib-eyes the first red meat from Europe to (legally) reach our shores in about 16 years. The embargo went into effect in 1998, after our national freakout and response to Britain’s outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Prions, or the errant proteins that cause the disease, are immune to cooking, but after a relatively incident-free decade, American officials agreed last year to end the ban. Meat from Ireland will head here first.
Ranchers from that county now have their sights set on one-upping the Aussies, who currently dominate the grass-fed market, by carving out a niche of truly pasture-raised products. The market for premium beef is expanding — even fast food has gotten into the game — and at any rate, additional organic options are welcome, as America has this little problem of a serious affordable-meat shortage right now with no end in sight. Officials say they’ve already developed an elaborate marketing campaign. “There is also the large Irish-American community,” Ireland’s ag minister tells the Times, “which will be a key target of our promotional efforts.” Don’t be surprised, in other words, if you start seeing “Irish beef” burgers popping up on menus any day now.