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Ground Beef Labels

The label on ground beef tells the fat content


Man holding package of ground beef
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Ground Beef Labels

Keep in mind that these guidelines are according to United States standards. Variations will occur in other countries.

Ground hamburger: Ground from less tender and/or less popular cuts of beef. Generally the butcher reserves trimmings from other meat cuts (excluding innards) to grind into hamburger and ground beef. This means in theory there could be pieces of sirloin, chuck, ribs, or even filet mignon in that package of hamburger. According to USDA standards, hamburger may have fat added, but cannot contain more than 30% fat by weight.

Ground beef: Basically the same as ground hamburger but it cannot have added fat. It cannot contain more than 30% fat by weight.

Specialty ground beef: If the label says it's ground sirloin or ground chuck, then those are the only parts included in the grind. These grinds are typically more expensive and leaner than the all-inclusive ground beef or hamburger. However, buyer beware. Ground sirloin or ground round can conceivably be no leaner than inexpensive ground beef, yet still be properly labeled as long as it doesn't claim to be lean. Don't depend on the cut to define leanness. The following percentages are used as a guideline for specific cuts:
  • Ground chuck : 80 to 85 percent lean / 15 to 20 percent fat
  • Ground round : 85 to 90 percent lean / 10 to 15 percent fat
  • Ground sirloin : 90 to 92 percent lean / 8 to 10 percent fat
Lean ground beef: Must meet the requirements of ground beef but may not contain more than 22 percent fat.

Extra-lean ground beef: Must meet the requirements of ground beef but may not contain more than 15 percent fat.

More About Ground Beef and Hamburger Recipes:

Ground Beef Cooking Tips
Ground Beef Labels and Fat Content
Ground Beef Selection and Storage
What is in ground beef? FAQ
How to Grind Your Own Ground Beef
Ground Beef Coloration and Safe Handling
Ground Beef History
Ground Beef Recipes - Hamburger Recipes
Ground Beef - Beef Mince Photo © 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.


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