Ground beef labeling is extremely confusing. At least you can rest assured that it will be beef. By law, ground beef may not contain any added water, fillers or binders. To find out the cut of beef and the fat content, you will have to depend on the label or grind it yourself. Grinding effectively tenderizes otherwise tough cuts of meat into a form that won't give your teeth a workout. The ground fat adds flavor.
Many people are fat-conscious these days and opt for those packages labeled lean or extra-lean. In order to be labeled lean, the ground beef must have a 25 percent reduction in fat over standard ground beef's 30 percent limit. Confusing? After doing the math, this means that to be labeled lean, the ground beef can contain no more than 22.5 percent fat. The fat percentage must be referenced somewhere on the packaging for all ground beef labeled as lean.
Most markets have switched to labeling that includes both the fat and lean percentage content to help consumers make their selections. If the label does not contain fat or lean percentages, let the color be your guide. In general, the brighter the red color, the leaner the ground beef. (Keep reading for more information on ground beef coloring.)
If it is cholesterol you are avoiding, be aware that beef flesh and beef fat contain about the same amount of cholesterol. This means a standard ground beef patty could potentially have slightly less cholesterol than the equivalent lean ground beef patty after cooking.
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.