Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - 51

G

round beef remains one of the most
popular forms of beef consumed in
the United States. Some estimates
report that up to 65% of all beef consumed is in
the form of ground beef. It is one of our go-to
foods, and we are reminded of this during the
COVID-19 pandemic as well as other times
where economic or other situations have us
staying at home and wanting something easy
to prepare and comforting to eat. Continuing
cyclical interests in various iterations of lowcarb/protein-focused eating patterns certainly
benefits ground beef (maybe minus the bun).
Ground beef prices these days show that it is
not the bargain product that it once was.
Ground beef has humble beginnings. What
to do with the trimmings left over when cutting
beef into steaks and roasts? Meat grinders
solved this problem where the leftover lean
and fat pieces were magically transformed
into ground beef ready to be used for a variety
of products, most notably, the hamburger.
Consumers' love affair with hamburgers has
been the basis for many multi-billion dollar
quick-service restaurants, burgers featured
on menus in a wide variety of restaurants and
bars, common items in the nation's school
lunches, and retail cases full of ready-to-cook
options in grocery stores. We are simply a
hamburger nation.

FAT CONTENT
Through the 1990s, the types of ground beef
sold at retail would have focused on lean
content: e.g., regular (approximately 70%
lean, 30% fat), lean (approximately 80% lean,
20% fat), and extra lean (approximately 90%
lean, 10% fat). Changes to how the descriptors
of "lean" (less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5
grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 mg
of cholesterol) and "extra lean" (less than 5
grams of fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat,
and less than 95 mg of cholesterol) could be
used resulted in most retailers dropping the
traditional labeling so now it is quite common
to see the lean/fat ratios such as 73% lean/27%
fat, 80% lean/20% fat, and 90% lean/10% fat used
with simply ground beef. A survey of any retail
store will reveal lean/fat ratios all the way from
70% lean/30% fat to 96% lean/4% fat offering
consumers a variety of options when selecting
the type of ground beef they wish to purchase
and prepare.

Diet and health trends in the 1980s fueled
the move to manufacturing ground beef with
lower fat contents. Consumers were told to
reduce their fat intake, and consuming regular
ground beef with its maximum fat content
of 30% was strongly discouraged. What is
interesting is that while cook losses are fairly
similar across most fat percentages that range
from leaner to fatter grinds, what cooks out of
leaner ground beef is more moisture compared
to fat while for fatter ground beef, it is more fat
compared to moisture. Simply cooking ground
beef in such a way as to allow the drippings
to escape (e.g., broiling and grilling) results in
fat and caloric contents that are very similar
across fat contents.
Most studies show that ground beef with
higher fat contents will have higher tenderness,
juiciness and flavor properties compared to
their lower fat counterparts with these
differences accentuated when cooking patties to higher degrees of
doneness. The challenge is always
at what point do you balance
perceived health benefits from consuming lower-fat ground beef with the
taste advantages of the higher-fat variety.

PACKAGING STYLES
From a packaging standpoint, while there were
chub packages available in most retail markets
in the past, the vast majority of ground beef
was sold as freshly ground and packaged in
PVC-overwrapped plastic foam trays. In recent
years, the variety of ground beef sold in the
marketplace has changed dramatically.
Today, there are at least three prevalent
styles of packaging: PVC-overwrapped plastic
foam trays, chub and brick. Because chub
and brick styles are manufactured centrally,
they readily lend themselves to case-ready
applications allowing retailers to focus on
merchandising more types of ground beef than
in the past. In addition, food safety concerns
with the use of bench trimmings have created
an increased demand for ground beef sourced
more centrally than the traditional products
produced in the backrooms.

Ground beef remains
one of the most popular
forms of beef consumed
in the United States - 65%
of the beef consumed
is ground beef.

LEAN SOURCES
Today's ground beef is more than just blending leaner with fatter sources of trimmings to
meet a specified lean/fat target. Primal-specific
www.meatpoultry.com | 09.20 | MEAT+ POULTRY

51


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Meat+Poultry - September 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - September 2020

Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - 1
Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - 1
Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - 2
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Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - 4
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Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - VDG1
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Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - 51
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