About Veal

What is Veal?
Veal is the meat from a calf or young beef animal. Male dairy calves are used in the veal industry. Dairy cows must give birth to continue producing milk, but male dairy calves are of little or no value to the dairy farmer. A small percentage are raised to maturity and used for breeding

Calf: A calf is a young bovine of either sex that has not reached puberty (up to about 9 months of age), and has a maximum live weight of 750 pounds.

“Bob” Veal: About fifteen percent of veal calves are marketed up to 3 weeks of age or at a weight of 150 pounds. These are called Bob Calves.
“Special-Fed” Veal: The majority of veal calves are “special-fed.” A veal calf is raised until about 16 to 18 weeks of age, weighing up to 450 pounds. They are raised in specially designed facilities where they can be cared for and monitored.

Special, milk fed, and formula fed are the names given to nutritionally balanced milk or soy based diets fed to calves. These diets contain iron and 40 other essential nutrients, including amino acids, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins.
How are Veal Calves Housed?
Today’s modern, environmentally controlled veal barns provide for animal health and safety. The barns are lighted artificially and by natural light, and a constant source of fresh air is circulated.

Individual stalls are used for the calves. These stalls provide a safe environment where the calves can stand, stretch, groom themselves and lay down in a natural position. These pens are invaluable to the health of the animal. They allow the calves to be individually looked after. The stall’s slotted floors allow for efficient removal of waste.
How are Veal Calves Raised? 

Veal calves are observed individually and are provided with specialized care. They also receive a milk replacer diet that provided all of the 40 vitamins and minerals they require.
Veal calves are usually separated from the cows within 3 days after birth, allowing for control of diseases and monitoring the dairy cow for udder problems.
Veal farmers monitor each calf for health deficiencies such as anemia. The feed is controlled to meet the calves’ iron needs. Individual stalls allow veal farmers and veterinarians to closely monitor the health of each calf and properly treat a calf with a specific, government approved antibiotic.

Health products for use with veal calves are approved by the Food and Drug Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services and the manufacturers before being put on the market. The FDA also regulates the labeling of the product, the doses permitted, and withdrawal period.

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Is Clenbuterol Used in Veal Raising?
No, clenbuterol is an illegal drug in this country. Clenbuterol is not a hormone. Its illegal use in show animals is linked to its ability to induce weight gain and a greater proportion of muscle to fat.
Clenbuterol residues can affect lung and heart function in persons who have eaten liver or meat of animals given the drug. USDA considers any residue of clenbuterol in meat unacceptable because of this. At the present time there have been no reported cases of illness related to clenbuterol in the United States.

The Clenbuterol Exploratory Program tests for clenbuterol in formula fed veal. As part of this program, a multi-tier program of testing was conducted in 1994 to randomly test for clenbuterol. During the testing period, all samples were negative for clenbuterol in edible tissue, including formula fed veal. The current random sampling program for formula fed veal will continue until July 1997.

Are Hormones and Antibiotics Used In Veal Raising?
Antibiotics may be given to prevent or treat disease in the veal calf. Penicillin is not used in calf raising: tetracycline has been approved but is not widely used.
No hormones are used in veal raising.

How is Veal Inspected?
All veal in retail stores is either USDA inspected for wholesomeness or inspected by state systems which have standards equal to the federal government. Each calf and its internal organs are inspected for signs of disease. The “Passed and Inspected by USDA” seal insures the veal is wholesome and free from disease.

Is Veal Graded?
Veal and calf carcasses are graded on a composite evaluation of two general grade factors: conformation (proportion of lean, fat, and bone in carcass); and quality of the lean. In addition, the color of the lean carcasses is key in differentiating between veal, calf and beef carcasses.

There are five grades for veal: prime, choice, good, standard, utility.
Grading is voluntary; a plant pays to have its meat graded.
When veal is graded, a shield-shaped purple mark is stamped on the carcass. With today’s close trimming at the retail level, however, you may not see the USDA grade shield on the meat cuts at the store. Instead, retailers put stickers with the USDA grade shield on individual packages of meat. In addition, grade shields and inspection legends may appear on bags containing larger wholesale cuts.
Retail Cuts of Fresh Veal
There are seven basic major cuts into which veal is separated: leg (round), sirloin, loin, rib, shoulder, foreshank and breast.

When examining a package of veal, the label can help the purchaser identify the meat in the package.

For example, a label stating “veal rib chop” identifies the packaged meat as “veal,” the primal or large wholesale cut from the “rib,” and the name of the retail cut, “chop.” This information helps consumers know what type of preparation method to use.

The most readily available cuts of veal today include rib chops, loin chops, cutlets, veal for stew, arm steak, blade steak, rib roast, breast, shanks, and round steak.
How Much Veal is Consumed?

In the ’90’s Americans consumed about .8 lbs (about 3/4 lb) of veal per person yearly.
What Does “Natural” Mean?
All fresh meat qualifies as “natural.” Products labeled “natural” cannot contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, chemical preservative or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient; and the product and its ingredients are not more than minimally processed (ground, for example).
All products claiming to be natural should be accompanied by a brief statement which explains what is meant by the term “natural”.

Color of Veal
Veal is classified as a “red” meat, but typical lean meat on a veal carcass has a grayish pink color. Typical calf carcasses have a grayish red color of lean meat.

Dating of Veal Products
Product dating is not required by federal regulations. However, many stores and processors may voluntarily date packages of raw veal or processed veal products. If a date is shown, there must be a phrase explaining the meaning of the date.
If a manufacturer has determined a “use by” date, observe it. This is a quality assurance date after which peak quality begins to lessen but the product may still be used. It is always best to buy a product before its date expires.

What Food-borne Organisms are Associated with Veal?

Escherichia coli can colonize in the intestines of animals, which could contaminate muscle meat at slaughter. E. coli O157:H7 is a rare strain that produces large quantities of a potent toxin that forms in and causes severe damage to the lining of the intestine.

The disease produced by it is called Hemorrhagic Colitis and is characterized by bloody diarrhea. E. coli O157:H7 is easily destroyed by thorough cooking.
Salmonellae may be found in the intestinal tracts of livestock, poultry, dogs, cats and other warm-blooded animals. There are about 2,000 Salmonella species.

Freezing doesn’t kill this microorganism but it is destroyed by thorough cooking.

Salmonellae must be eaten to cause illness. They cannot enter the body through a skin cut. Cross contamination can occur if raw meat or its juices contact cooked food or foods that will be eaten raw such as salad.

How to Handle and Store Veal Safely

Fresh veal is kept cold during distribution to retail stores to prevent growth of bacteria. If possible, put packages of veal in disposable plastic bags, to contain leakage which could cross contaminate cooked foods or produce.

Take veal home immediately and refrigerate it at 40 degrees.
Use veal chops and roasts within 3 to 5 days, and ground veal or stew meat within 1 to 2 days.

You may freeze veal at 0 degrees. If kept frozen, veal will be safe indefinitely, although the quality can be affected with extended freezing.
For best quality use veal chops and roasts within 4 to 6 months and ground veal or stew meat within 3 to 4 months.
It is not important if a date expires after freezing veal because all foods stay safe while properly frozen.

Rinsing Veal
It isn’t necessary to wash raw veal before cooking it. Any bacteria which might be present on the surface would be destroyed by cooking and wet meat won’t brown well.

Safe Defrosting
There are three safe methods that can be used to defrost veal: in the refrigerator; in cold water; and in the microwave. When thawing in the refrigerator, estimate 4 to 7 hours per pound for a large roast, 3 to 5 hours per pound for a small roast, and about 12 hours for 1-inch thick rib or shoulder chops. Ground veal defrosting time depends on the thickness of the package.

To defrost veal in cold water, do not remove packaging. Be sure the package is airtight or put it into a leak proof bag. Submerge the veal in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes to be sure it stays cold.

Small packages of veal may defrost in an hour or less: a 3 to 4 pound roast may take 2 to 3 hours. When thawing in cold water or in the microwave immediately cook the veal. Never thaw on the counter or in other locations.
Ground veal and stew meat should be used in 1 or 2 days. Other cuts of veal should be safe in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days before cooking.
Foods defrosted in the microwave or by the cold water method should be cooked before refreezing because they may potentially have been held at temperatures above 40°F, where bacteria multiply rapidly.

It is safe to cook frozen veal in the oven or on the stove or grill without defrosting. Estimate one-third to one-half more cooking time depending upon the size of the meat. Broil frozen veal farther away from the heat source; preheating the skillet when pan-frying or pan-broiling. Do not cook frozen veal in a slow cooker.

Marinate veal in the refrigerator up to 5 days for chops, roasts or steaks. Veal cubes or stew meat can be marinated up to 1 to 2 days. Boil used marinade before brushing on cooked veal. Discard any uncooked leftover marinade.
Irradiation has not been approved for use on veal products.

Veal is a delicately flavored meat. It is therefore a good choice when making a dish which has a flavorful sauce or rub. Seasonings that enhance veal’s natural flavors include white wine, sherry, onion, celery, parsley, butter, marjoram, rosemary, sage, oregano, black pepper, cinnamon, garlic, mustard, nutmeg, bay leaf and thyme.

Veal will be moist and flavorful when cooked to medium doneness (160 degrees) or faintly pink in the center. Veal cooks very quickly due to the low amounts of fat in the meat. Attention needs to be paid to this fact when preparing veal. If veal is overcooked the tenderness of the meat may be affected.
The following are the steps to a wonderful veal meal at home.

Purchasing Veal
Look at cost per serving when purchasing veal. Most veal cuts have very little waste. Cuts that contain more bone and /or fat naturally yield fewer servings per pound.

To determine cost per serving, first look at the number of servings per pound. Second, take the price per pound and divide by the number of servings per pound.

Select veal that is a delicate, creamy pink color with fat that is a milk white color.
Select packages of veal that feel cold to the touch, are securely wrapped with no signs of leakage.
Veal is available in the self-service meat case and the full service case. If the cut of veal is not available call the meat manager and request the particular cut you desire.

Storage Tips

Unopened, pre-packaged veal may be refrigerated 1 to 2 days after purchase.
For longer storage, freeze veal in its original wrapping up to 2 weeks at 0 degrees or lower.
For longer freezer storage (6 to 9 months), wrap veal in a moisture/vapor proof material such as aluminum foil, heavy duty plastic wrap or polyethylene film.
You can also place veal in food-safe plastic freezer storage bags, be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing.

Store ground veal no longer than 3 months. For convenience, leave roasts whole; place smaller cuts such as chops or ground veal patties in meal-size packages.
Defrost veal in the refrigerator in its original wrapping.
Allow 4 to 7 hours per pound for a large roast, 3 to 5 hours per pound for a smaller roast, 12 hours for 1-inch thick chops. Gauge time for defrosting ground veal by package thickness.

Cooking Methods

Veal can be cooked the same ways beef cuts are cooked. Methods for cooking veal include dry heat (such as roasting, broiling, pan-broiling, pan-frying, stir-frying and outdoor grilling) and moist heat (such as braising or cooking in liquid). Tender cuts of meat cooked by dry-heat methods, result in tender and juicy recipes.
Less-tender cuts must be cooked for longer periods of time by moist-heat methods in order to tenderize the meat, to keep it juicy and to develop flavor. Always remember that veal cooks much faster than beef and needs shorter cooking periods.

Roasting is recommended for loin, rib, rump and shoulder roasts. To roast, place meat on rack in a roasting pan; do not cover or add water. Roast in a slow oven (300 to 325 degrees) until 5 degrees below desired doneness.
Final meat thermometer reading should be: 160 degrees for medium doneness and 170 degrees for well done.


   Time Required For:
Cut Approx. Weight (lbs.) Oven Temp.Medium Well Done 
Loin roast (bone-in)  3 to 4 300 to 325 34 to 3638 to 40
Loin roast (boneless)  2 to 3  300 to 325  18 to 20 22 to 24 
Rib roast4 to 5300 to 325  25 to 27 29 to 31 
Crown roast (1 to 14 ribs) 7 1/2 to 9 1/2300 to 325  19 to 21 12 to 23 
Rib Eye roast 2 to 3 300 to 325  26 to 28 30 to 33 
Rump roast (boneless)2 to 3 300 to 325  33 to 3537 to 40 
Shoulder roast (boneless)2 1/2 to 3 300 to 325  31 to 34 34 to 37 


Broiling or pan broiling is excellent for tender veal chops and ground veal patties. Less tender cuts such as the arm and blade steak can be broiled after marinating. To broil, place veal on rack of broiler pan. Position thinner cuts 3 to 6 inches from the heat. Broil to medium (160 degrees) or well done (170 degrees).

   Time Required For:
Cut Approx.. WeightApprox.. Thickness Medium Well Done 
Loin / Rib Chop8 oz.1 inch14 to 1615 to 17
Loin / Rib Chop 11 oz.1 1/2 inch 21 to 23 23 to 25 
Arm / Blade Steak *16 oz.3/4 inch  14 to 15 15 to 16 
Ground Veal Patties 4 oz.1/2 inch  8 to 10 10 to 12 

* Marinate 6 hours or overnight, if desired

Pan broiling

Panbroiling is a faster and more convenient method than oven broiling for cooking thinner steaks or chops. To panbroil, place veal in a preheated heavy skillet. Cook cutlets and other thin cuts over medium-high heat, uncovered and without water

   Time Required For:
Cut Approx.. Thickness
Range Temp. 
Medium Well Done 
Loin / Rib Chop3/4 to 1 inchmed.-low to med.10 to 1212 to 14
Arm / Blade Steak *3/4 inch med. to med.-high13 to 14 14 to 15 
Ground Veal Patties1/2 inch med.-low to med. 6 to 7 8 to 9 

Pan frying

Panfrying is best for ground veal and small or thin cuts. Panfrying differs from panbroiling in that a small amount of fat is added first or allowed to accumulate during the cooking.

  Time Required For:
CutApprox.. ThicknessMedium Well Done 
Cutlets1/8 inch3 to 4———
Cutlets1/4 inch 5 to 6 ———
Ground Veal Patties 1/2 inch 5 to 7 ——— 


A moist-heat cooking method such as braising is suitable for less tender cuts of veal such as the shoulder and breast. To braise, slowly brown veal on all sides in a small amount of heated oil in a heavy pan. Pour off drippings and add a small amount of liquid. Cover tightly and cook at a low temperature on top of the range or in a 300 degree oven until fork tender.

CutApprox.. Weight (lbs.) Approx.. Thickness  Approx.. Cooking Time 
Boneless Breast (stuffed) 2 – 2 1/2  1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours
Boneless Breast (stuffed)  1 1/4 – 1 1/2 2 – 2 1/2 hours 
Boneless Breast (rolled & tied)  2 – 3 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours 
Riblets   50 – 70 minutes
Arm / Blade Steak  3/4 inch – 1 inch45 – 60 minutes 
Round Steak 1/4 inch30 minutes 
Round Steak  1/2 inch40 minutes 
Shoulder Roast (boneless)3 1/2 – 4 2 – 2 1/2 hours 
Loin / Rib Chop  1/2 inch  8 – 10 minutes 
Loin / Rib Chop   3/4 inch – 1 inch  20 – 25 minutes 

Grilling Veal

  • Almost any veal cut that can be broiled can also be grilled.
  • Grill veal cuts over medium temperature coals.
  • Use well trimmed veal to avoid flare-ups.
  • Use tongs to turn the veal. A fork will pierce the meat, allowing flavorful juices to escape.
  • Determine the doneness of chops or steaks by making a small slit near the bone and checking for desired color, or faintly pink for medium doneness.


Degree of Doneness

The degree of doneness can easily be determined by measuring the internal temperature using a standard meat thermometer or quick recovery/instant read thermometer. Veal should be cooked to 160 degrees for medium and 170 degrees for well done.

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Leftover, cooked veal should be wrapped or covered and refrigerated within an hour after cooking. Refrigerate up to 3 days. Tightly wrapped, veal can be frozen up to 3 months.


Veal is a naturally lean meat. On average, a three-ounce cooked , trimmed serving has 166 calories, 5.6 grams of total fat, 1.6 grams of saturated fat and 100 milligrams of cholesterol.