From lipstick to jet fuel, cows provide it all for humans. We checked with the National Cattleman’s Beef Association to see what some of the most common, and surprising, products contain cow parts. Following is a transcript of the video.
Cattle — Better known to most as sirloin, brisket, T-bone, short rib, or simply beef. But what you see in the meat aisle is only part of the animal. For perspective, about 60% is harvested for food. The other 40% ends up in places like lipstick and jet fuel.
Let’s start with one of the most ubiquitous parts — the fat. The fat that doesn’t end up at the butcher’s is rendered into a product called tallow.
Fatty acids in the tallow give it a slick, oily consistency, which adds to the texture in some body creams, cosmetics, soaps, and toothpaste.
They’re also a lubricant in antifreeze, hydraulic brake fluids, and jet engines and are even being tested as a biofuel for planes in the US Air Force. But powering planes is just the beginning.
We also rely on cattle for certain life-saving medicines, like insulin. Bovine insulin is nearly identical to humans’. So, the cow pancreas is often used to make insulin injections for diabetics.
Likewise, the adrenal glands are used in certain steroid drugs. Cartilage helps make medicine for people who suffer from osteoarthritis, and the lungs are used in blood thinners like heparin.
Medicine aside, we even use cattle leftovers in plastic surgery. Collagen — from the hide — is purified and injected into the face for a younger look. But, it turns out that plastic surgery isn’t the most common use for collagen.
That title goes to gelatin, which is made from boiling cow bones and hide. Gelatin gives that distinctive gummy texture to foods like certain marshmallows, caramels, gummies, and jams.
There are more than 727,000 beef farms in the US that slaughter roughly 30 million cattle each year. While we usually think about the meat that ends up on the grill, the parts we ignore are present throughout our everyday lives.
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