Ground Beef is by far the largest beef category in an American supermarket’s fresh meat department, accounting for as much as one-third of all beef sold. In our store that’s especially true because we have earned a well-deserved reputation for excellent quality in our ground beef.
All ground beef is definitely not alike. At Prisco’s, we staked our reputation on the consistent quality of our ground beef from the time my Great grandfather opened our first store. It was his son and my Grandpa, Tony, who went away to school to learn the science of butchering under the strictest of USDA standards, and Grandpa Tony always insisted on the following:
- All of our meats would get ground in the store by our butchers.
- Nothing but the trimmings of the meat offered for sale in the meat case would ever be added to the meat in the grinder.
- The ratio of lean meat to fat would be clearly and accurately indicated on each package.
- Beef, chicken, pork and lamb would be ground in small batches to assure that we never produced more of any cut than could be sold in a day or two out of our case. Grandpa Tony would always insist that, If we kept our ground meats fresh and lean, people would buy them on a regular basis.
So how is that any different from the ground beef you can buy at other big chains and giant box stores? Actually, there is a great deal of difference. At most large stores today, little if any of the ground meat is ground on premises. “So what’s wrong with that?” you ask, “Aren’t they just being more cost effective grinding meat at a central location in larger batches and farming it out to stores where needed?”
The answer is a definite maybe, at best. You see once the meat is ground off premises the store loses control of what is in the meat and where it came from. For example, if ground in-store you are using up the trimmings of what is cut and sold in-store. If the store runs a chuck sale it will increase its supply of chuck trimmings, and as the supply of chuck trimmings increases it tends to put pressure on the price of ground chuck as we now need to move more tonnage in order to reduce the excess supply.
If we were a large chain the supply is controlled centrally and the excess inventory of chuck from one group of stores can be shipped to other stores that tend to sell more ground chuck, and pricing overall may not need to be adjusted. Additionally, the large box stores and chains will buy a large portion of their ground meat directly from large packing houses. Here, efficiency and cost are the primary drivers, not quality.
The beef used for commercially ground beef are often mature cattle (over 30 months of age) which tend to be less tender, making it ideal for ground beef production since the process of grinding provides tenderness to these muscles. At times other additives are included to help extend the shelf life and coloration of the meat. While not a danger to your health, these practices are most definitely not adding quality to your food experience.
We know that our customers know that they will always get fresh, ground in-store meats at Prisco’s, and that’s what keeps them coming back time and again for more.