The art of meat cutting
Chicken and pork beat out red meat in the popularity department

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Feb 21/00) - Like any other trade, there are certain nuances and subtleties involved in meat cutting that only a trained professional would know, according to the department manager of meats at Iqaluit's North Mart store.

Bill Grace has been working in Iqaluit since 1989,

and he says most people don't have the necessary tools at home to do things such as removing bones, for example.

"If they need a hand, I'd say bring it to me and we'll fix it," says Grace.

"We're always available to give advice or cut meat for people -- we often get calls asking for cooking or cutting tips."

In a typical week, Grace says the store sells an average of 1,800 pounds of fresh chicken -- one of the best sellers.

"I'd say red meat hasn't been on the scene for more than 15 years here," says Grace.

"Chicken and pork are the more popular meats, or the prime cuts of red meat."

But maintaining a meat department is more than simply supplying customers with fresh meats.

There is the smoked meat counter -- consisting of lunch meats, hotdogs and bacons -- sausage displays, the fresh meat section and the freezer section.

"Stock rotation in all of the different sections of the department is also very important.

"You have to check the dating and ensure the newest meats are at the back, and with fresh meats we have a three-day shelf life and once that passes we just write the meat off," says Grace.

Fortunately, the meat is usually sold before the department has to get rid of it, and Grace says weekends are usually the busiest times.

Cleanliness and safety also play key roles in maintaining a successful meat department.

"The two biggest things in the department are safety and sanitation. We like to stay one step ahead of the health regulations."

Machines such as band saws, tenderizers and a wide variety of knives are constantly cleaned and sterilized, as are the counters, sinks and scales.

And the latest thing that Grace is doing to keep his department running smoothly? Labelling many of the meats with tips on how to cook the individual cuts to get the best bite for your buck.