Understanding What's in Ground Beef

1 Source Ground Beef Package Open

Last week, we discussed ground beef and some questions you may be asking yourself about meat shortages and ways to use and store your ground beef. This week's headlines might have you asking yourself more about the safety of the ground beef you have on hand. So today we are diving into ground beef safety.

Know the Numbers

First, some background on conventional ground beef. How many cows do you think are in each package of ground beef you last picked up at your local grocery store? We'll wait while you consider this question, which you might have never asked yourself before… 

If you said the meat in that package is from just one cow, you are in the majority. About 1/3 of consumers think this is the case. But it's not. A single package of conventional ground beef might contain meat from 100, 400, even 1000 cows. (Yes, there have been studies that have found traces of DNA from up to 1,000 cows in a single package of ground beef.) Think about that for a minute, pretty gross, right? Scary even. We thought so too. Not only that, but these cows can be from all over the world. Check out this video for a visual!

Know the Process

Now that you've had a quick lesson on the "where", let's take a look at the "how" of ground beef processing. If meat is going to become contaminated, it usually happens during slaughter and is generally contained to the outside surface of the meat. So, when steaks are cut, the contamination remains just on the surface of the steak. Any bacteria on the outside are killed when the outside of the steak hits the grill or pan and is seared at a high temperature. 

Hamburger meat, though, is a ground product. This means what is on the outside is also now on the inside. During grinding, the meat is mixed all around, as is any possible contamination. What was on the outside may now be in the middle, which is why it is important to cook ground beef all the way through.

Why It All Matters

Let's combine what we know about the "where" and the "how". Hundreds of cows comprising conventional ground beef means the chances of contamination instantly becomes mega-multiplied. At the same time, tracing that contamination back to its original source is also a massive feat to tackle. When such a long path exists between farm to fork, it's hard to pinpoint exactly where the contamination originated, which is why ground beef recalls tend to involve huge amounts of beef. 

More cows mean more chances of contamination as those cows are mixed communally during processing. One contaminated animal could then be distributed in many packages of finished product. If something goes wrong somewhere along that path to grills and tables around the country, a lot of people could be affected at once. As our food supply becomes more centralized, there is more and more opportunity for larger and larger outbreaks. This makes it easy to see why recalls happen and why they expand, because the original source of contamination becomes very difficult to trace when one package could contain pieces and trim from hundreds of cows.

Not All Ground Beef is Bad

What makes 1 Source ground beef different? For starters, 1 Source ground beef does not contain beef scraps, trimmings, and fat shipped in from cows from all over the world. 1 Source ground beef is exactly what the name implies. Each package comes from one single animal. It's one Black Angus cow from one single U.S. family farm. 

In addition, 1 Source ground beef is not made with scraps and trim but rather all the best cuts of beef. We're talking about the whole brisket, rib, chuck roast, sirloin and other delicious steak cuts. 1 Source ground beef is a gourmet blend of it all, which is why the flavor will astound you. 

1 Source ground beef is a better way forward. Each package does not have to be traced back to thousands of cows from all over the world because each package comes from one cow that was pasture raised and humanely handled on one U.S. farm. With 1 Source, you know exactly where your food is coming from, and so do we. That means traceability you can count on, and food you can trust.

1 Source cuts

Written By

Jill Turley, MS, RD/LD

Jill Turley is the Chief Creative Officer at Real Noshes. She is a registered dietitian, joyous eater, lover of the kitchen and fan of keeping life simple. She resides in Northwest Arkansas and is mom to a four-year-old whackadoodle and equally whacky bernedoodle. Follow her food adventures on Instagram @realnoshes and check-out www.realnoshes.com for more resources and kitchen fun.


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