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Jewish Recipes --> Food and Health -- > Food Safety Education --> Focus on Ground Beef

You must consult Doctor on all health and medical and your Rabbi concerning all kosher and Jewish Law issues. This web site is for informational purposes ONLY.

Focus on Ground Beef

Questions about "ground meat" or "hamburger" have always been in the top five food topics of calls to the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline. Here are the most frequently asked questions.

What's the difference between "hamburger" and "ground beef"?
Beef fat may be added to "hamburger," but not "ground beef," if the meat is ground and packaged at a USDA-inspected plant. A maximum of 30% fat by weight is allowed in either hamburger or ground beef. Both hamburger and ground beef can have seasonings, but no water, phosphates, extenders, or binders added. They must be labeled in accordance with Federal Standards and Labeling Policy and marked with a USDA-inspected label.

Most ground beef is ground and packaged in local stores rather than in food processing plants under USDA inspection. Even so, the Federal labeling laws on fat content apply. Most states and cities set standards for store-packaged ground beef which, by law, cannot be less than Federal standards. If products in retail stores were found to contain more than 30% fat by weight, they would be considered "adulterated" under Federal law.

Is ground beef inspected and graded?

All meat transported and sold in interstate commerce must be federally inspected. The larger cuts are usually shipped to local stores where they are ground. The Food Safety and Inspection Service carries out USDA's responsibilities under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. These laws protect consumers by ensuring that meat products are wholesome, unadulterated, and properly marked, labeled, and packaged.

For meat being transported and sold within a state, state inspection would apply. State inspection programs must enforce requirements at least equal to those of Federal inspection laws.

Grades are assigned as a standard of quality only. It is voluntary for a company to hire a Federal inspector to certify the quality of its product. Beef grades are USDA Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner. They are set by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Most ground beef is not graded.

From what cuts of beef are ground beef and hamburger made?

Generally, ground beef is made from the less tender and less popular cuts of beef. Trimmings from more tender cuts may also be used. Grinding tenderizes the meat and the fat reduces its dryness and improves flavor.

What is the significance of the "Sell-By" date on the package?

"Sell-By" dates are a guide for retailers. Although many products bear "Sell-By" dates, product dating is not a Federal requirement. While these dates are helpful to the retailer, they are reliable only if the food has been kept at proper temperature during storage and handling. USDA suggests that consumers cook or freeze ground beef within 2 days after purchase for maximum quality.

United States Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service
July 2002

Ground Beef - 1 - 2

Sept 2005 - 2014 - Kosher Recipes - Kosher Cooking - Jewish Cooking - Jewish Recipes - Jewish Foods