Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tip when buying ground beef

My friend Danita posted this and it was one of those "Oh..good tip...I didn't know that" kind of posts.  If you buy ground beef in a place that grinds their own, look at what meat is on sale that day and you know what makes up most of the stuff they grind on site:
From: "DZanre"
Subject: Ground Beef (Mince for the Brits)
Date: Wed, 18 May 2011 15:29:24 GMT

So, I try to be pretty cautious about buying ground beef primarily due to e.
coli issues.  But other meat packing practices make me leery of some of it due
to not knowing "just what's in there".  I even have a meat grinder attachment on
my KitchenAid Stand Mixer so that I can grind my own on occasion.

So, yesterday, Dominique and I were at Safeway, and this young butcher saw me
looking in the meat case and asked if he could help me.  So I asked whether they
grind their meat on-site.  In case you don't know why this might be important,
typically ground beef in the US comes from these huge packing plants, and if a
batch gets infected with e. coli, it can literally infect thousands of pounds of
beef being sent to stores in a large area.  If a local store grinds it, it
doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be e. coli problems, but the affected
customers will be a smaller group.

So, anyway, the butcher told me that for the Safeway stores in Colorado (or at
least the ones that are distributed the same way as our Parker store), the 90%
and 95% lean beef are done in the plant and delivered to the local stores in
these huge tubes.  They then "regrind" the meat to make it look fresher - gah!

BUT the 80% lean is ground right on the premises using  the meat scraps from
their cutting.  The local stores DO cut all of the steaks, roasts, etc. from
sides of meat.  We were standing in front of the "specialty meat" counter, and
he walked me over to the packaged meat section and pointed at the 80/20 ground
beef there and said that this meat was the best they had in the store today
(fresher than the meat in the specialty counter even) and that their 80/20 grind
is always the trimmings from what they are cutting that day.  He said the way
you can get the best ground beef at Safeway is to look at the beef cuts that are
on sale that day, because that's what's going to be in the 80/20 overall.
Yesterday was top sirloin steaks and ribeyes, and since they are cutting a lot
more of the sale items on a given day, the percentage of what's in the ground
beef is always high on the sales items.  He also told me that they never use
organ meats, "pink slime" and other gross stuff when they grind their 80/20.
Makes me feel a little better about it, but grinding my own still seems safest!

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