Before you grill up another burger to end a perfect summer day, you should know that if you got that ground beef from the supermarket there’s a good chance the meat from that patty came from at least 100 different cows.
Remember a couple of years back when McDonald’s admitted that their burgers contain meat from hundreds of cows? Well, that process is not reserved for fast food chains.
We talked to Sutter Meats butcher Terry Ragasa, and he confirmed that supermarkets use that the same practice.
The supermarkets are “getting it from these large distributors where one pound of ground meat can contain meat from up to a thousand different animals, so it’s impossible to have any traceability there,” Ragasa told HuffPost.
Traceability is important in the food industry for public health. It can help contain any possible food borne illness outbreaks, and in this global food system that is extremely important.
Of course, not every supermarket uses these bad practices, but you can assume it’s true for many of the biggest chains. And that’s not even the most depressing part about getting ground beef from the supermarket.
“They say ‘fresh’ ground meat, but standard practice at the grocery store is that it’s ‘fresh’ ground from something that’s been previously ground. Most places get big bags full of previously-ground meat that’s coarsely ground, and then they grind that again and mark it as fresh” explained Ragasa.
If this bothers you ― and you wouldn’t be alone feeling that way ― consider finding a butcher for your burger needs. A good butcher will grind their meats fresh every day. And ground beef is something you want to have as fresh as possible, because it has so much surface area which just invites bacteria.
“A good butcher is getting whole animals from local farms and grinding daily single muscles from those individual animals, so you go into a butcher shop you’ll see steaks, you’ll see roasts, and you’ll see ground meat all in their case and it’s all not only from the same farm, but usually from the same animal. With a butcher you have that unique traceability that’s so important,” says Ragasa.
Chew on that next time you feel like eating a burger.