Question On USDA Grading

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MikeC

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Was asked a question the other day and didn't exactly know how to answer.

The question was: "If the USDA Grading system is based on fat content of meat, with higher fat content being better, why is Ground beef with a higher fat content so much cheaper than lean Ground beef"?


I really had a hard time explaining that to a lady the other day. I must have sounded like a bumbling fool.

Help me out here.
 

birdog

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I would say it has more to do with marketing. Anyone shopping for the "Heart Healthy" diet is going to pay more for their items than the average consumer. Like I tell my doctor, " I'm a working man, I can't afford to eat healthy." JMO
 

Frankie

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MikeC":1kw6adp3 said:
Was asked a question the other day and didn't exactly know how to answer.

The question was: "If the USDA Grading system is based on fat content of meat, with higher fat content being better, why is Ground beef with a higher fat content so much cheaper than lean Ground beef"?


I really had a hard time explaining that to a lady the other day. I must have sounded like a bumbling fool.

Help me out here.

She needs to define "better" in her question. Steaks with marbling taste "better", IMO. But there's more meat and less grease when you cook lean beef. So it's also "better". Probably the biggest difference is that steak doesn't come with the percentage of fat on the label like hamburger. ;-)
 

The Blue Belgian

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Meat cost more than fat. Hence why a leaner ground beef ( 90-10) then a fattier mixture (80-20) would cost more. Obviously people want to buy the meat instead of the fat.
 

dun

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MikeC":449lvzjw said:
"If the USDA Grading system is based on fat content of meat, with higher fat content being better, why is Ground beef with a higher fat content so much cheaper than lean Ground beef"?
I think the grading system only applys to muscle cuts, not trim
 

3waycross

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dun":1gfuzqib said:
MikeC":1gfuzqib said:
"If the USDA Grading system is based on fat content of meat, with higher fat content being better, why is Ground beef with a higher fat content so much cheaper than lean Ground beef"?
I think the grading system only applys to muscle cuts, not trim

Bingo.
However we do sell ground beef that is specifically labeled as Kobe(American). Also CAB ground beef both of those would denote higher fat content, but people buying those want the fat or they wouldn't buy it. I'm pretty sure both still come out at least 81/19

The simple answer to the question is in ground meat fat is cheaper then meat.
 

3waycross

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Brandonm22":23grk7fm said:
Actually, Ruby Tuesday's is now selling a USDA Prime burger for $9.99 and they claim that their lesser burgers (If $6.99 can be called "lesser") are USDA Choice.

http://www.rubytuesday.com/menu/handcraftedBurgers.asp

I wonder what they mean by a triple burger and also what they mean by a "blend" of prime ground beef, blended with what? Sounds like a bunch of marketing hooey to me. Notice they don't say what they weigh. BTW 699 ain't that bad for what they advertize, and they passed 9.99 for a burger about 10 years ago in Aspen and Vail Colorado.
 

Brandonm22

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Anybody who wants to pay $6.99-9.99 or more for a burger, can go at it. More power to them and theirs. As for me, they are only 9/10s of a mile from my house (on a site that used to be a Brangus ranch, though became a trailer park ~35 years ago) but I choose to go 5 miles up the road where $5.75 buys a jumbo sized double cheeseburger, a pound plus of fires, AND a large cola. $6.50 buys a large portion of beef fajitas, rice, beans, salad, chips, AND your soft drink around here. We save The Rubbie for the tourists.
 

dun

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dun":1ldm1og4 said:
MikeC":1ldm1og4 said:
"If the USDA Grading system is based on fat content of meat, with higher fat content being better, why is Ground beef with a higher fat content so much cheaper than lean Ground beef"?
I think the grading system only applys to muscle cuts, not trim

Thinking about it, (always a dangerous thing) I think it's based on the ribeye between the 12th & 13th rib
 

Brandonm22

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Exactly, the whole carcass is graded not each cut so by the time you get through cutting out all the marketable steaks from a Choice or Prime carcass you have a floor full of Choice or Prime trimmings (mostly fat). Most of it gets mixed with cull cows and/or imported lean trimmings to make burger meat. IF there is a demand for graded burger meat it is certainly possible to collect the trimmings and market them (after the fat has been willowed down to 25% or less) as Prime or Choice burger patties
 

ROB

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Brandonm22":5ucmm22p said:
Exactly, the whole carcass is graded not each cut so by the time you get through cutting out all the marketable steaks from a Choice or Prime carcass you have a floor full of Choice or Prime trimmings (mostly fat). Most of it gets mixed with cull cows and/or imported lean trimmings to make burger meat. IF there is a demand for graded burger meat it is certainly possible to collect the trimmings and market them (after the fat has been willowed down to 25% or less) as Prime or Choice burger patties

thats interesting, i always figured that the trimmings of an animal stayed with the animal. in that manner if something turns up bad- the product could be traced back to the animal in question. i do know that a hog processing facility nearby does it that way. (for the saleable meat products) the offall is combined and utilized for otherthings like dogfood and such.

ROB
 

Brandonm22

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Back in the day when butcher shops and grocers bought whole sides then broke it down into steaks, roasts, and burger it USED to be that way. Now the sides are (for the most part) broken down into whole cuts and thrown into a box, most of the trimming is done at the plant, those trimmings (most of them just cutting the fat off the whole cuts to get them to the uniform specs that the buyers demand) are thrown into a box and a fat %age calculated. At that plant or another plant %fat trimmings are mixed and ground to produce the ground beef with the desired fat content.
 

3waycross

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Brandonm22":1970ibun said:
Back in the day when butcher shops and grocers bought whole sides then broke it down into steaks, roasts, and burger it USED to be that way. Now the sides are (for the most part) broken down into whole cuts and thrown into a box, most of the trimming is done at the plant, those trimmings (most of them just cutting the fat off the whole cuts to get them to the uniform specs that the buyers demand) are thrown into a box and a fat %age calculated. At that plant or another plant %fat trimmings are mixed and ground to produce the ground beef with the desired fat content.

You're right Brandomm, and if people knew how much head, cheek, and organ meat is ground into commercial ground beef they would all be at the farm trying to buy a calf to butcher.
 
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