Myth Busted: Is There Meat From 100 Cows in My Hamburger?

Myth:  Beef from 100 cows is in my ground beef patty, which makes it less safe for me to consume.

The Facts:    All ground beef trim must meet stringent food safety guidelines set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), therefore the number of cows whose lean trim is used doesn’t represent the safety of your food.

Ground beef, commonly used in hamburgers and tacos, is made from beef trim that results when steaks and roasts are cut. In order to get the right mix of lean to fat processors combine trim from a number of different animals. For example, a majority of the trim from grain-finished beef cattle in the U.S. has higher fat content than trim from dairy cows or cattle from countries with grass-finished production systems, such as Australia and New Zealand. Trim from these animals is combined to create ground beef in a variety of lean to fat ratios, such as 80/20 or 90/10, to meet consumer demand. When it comes to safety, all of the trim, regardless of the source, must meet USDA safety and inspection standards and go through intervention processes to prevent contamination.

Our food system comprises various sources. A carton of milk contains milk from a number of different cows. A glass of orange juice contains juice from a number of different oranges and a loaf of bread contains wheat from many different acres of a wheat field. However, the USDA food safety procedures that our food supply undergoes, including ground beef, help prevent any harm to consumers and you can be confident in the safety of your ground beef.

Consumers also play an important role in food safety. Make sure you’re preparing ground beef and preventing potential foodborne illness by:

  • Properly refrigerate beef until time of preparation
  • Prepare beef on a clean work surface
  • Follow guidelines on beef cooking temperatures and test the internal temperature of beef as it cooks. Safe and savory ground beef should be cooked to 160 F, measured with an instant read meat thermometer. Color and juices are not an accurate way to determine doneness.
  • Store and refrigerate leftovers in an air-tight container
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