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Ground Beef: Freshly Ground or Vacuum-Packed?

I'm starting to get into hamburger grilling, and I'm wonder about the differences between freshly ground meat, as found in the butcher's case, and the pre-packaged, vacuum-packed stuff (I'm deliberately excluding the packaged non-vacuum-packed stuff from this discussion, as that seems to be the worst of both worlds; I'm also excluding grinding the meat myself, because, to be frank, I'm too lazy).

To me, the fresh meat looks more appetizing. Perhaps I'm off-base, but to me, the bloodiness of the vacuum-packed meat is unappetizing. I have nothing against bloody meat (I love a rare steak), but the liquidiness of the packaged meat looks unappealing. Does the liquidity affect the taste/texture of the finished burger? I'm guessing it does, because my sense is that the meat needs to be relatively dry to get crispy on the outside (that, at least, has been my experience with steak).

Of course, one might argue that the vacuum-packed meat keeps longer and is less likely to grow bacteria. I'd love not to have to go to the butcher every time I want to cook a burger, but I am willing to cook the meat the day I buy it if it will make for a better finished product.


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  1. The vacuum process sucks the fluids from the meat. After unwrapping it, you can stir it up and then let it rest (chilled if you are not using the whole package at once) to redistribute the bloody liquid and get it back into the meat. I also do that when I defrost frozen ground beef, which is invariably exuding liquid that was forced out of the cells as the meat froze.

    1. I use the stuff that is sold in the vacuum packed mylar chubs. In my opinion, any advantage the freshly ground stuff has is counter balanced by its exposure to the atmosphere. The mylar completely eliminates exposure to the atmosphere.

      I think what gregarious says about stirring any liquid back in and allowing it to sit for a few minutes makes sense, especially since all the experts recommend you allow it to return to room temperature anyway.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Hank Hanover

        I must admit, I'm surprised to hear this. Is a bit of exposure to the atmosphere really that bad? After all, steak that's been dry-aged for weeks is, in my opinion, the tastiest steak money can buy. Obviously, leaving raw meat out in the air for many hours would cause bacteria to proliferate to an unhealthy degree, but going from the butcher's case to the fridge to the grill in less than 24 hours seems pretty safe to me.

        I have trouble imagining that stirring and resting would dry up the meat enough that bloody vacuum-packed meat would end up be as dry as freshly ground meat. And having the raw meat be as dry as possible seems to be key to getting a crispy crust.

        So my question to you, Hank, is *why* is any advantage the freshly ground stuff has outweighed by its exposure to the atmosphere?

        Also, would anyone else care to weigh in here?

        1. re: damian

          Some exposure to the atmosphere is a good thing. i don't buy ground meat as a rule, I prefer to grind or chop it myself. And when I do, I always leave it uncovered in the fridge for a short time to let it dry a bit. When it has picked up a rich, red color, I'll use it.

          Packaged ground meat (especially the vacuum packed tubes) is, quite simply, the pits.

      2. I buy ground beef from a local butcher. Through a glass partition I can watch them removing the meat from the bones which comes from all the carcasses hanging behind them. I can watch the meat put through the grinder and fall onto a tray then I can watch someone take some of the freshly ground meat and wrap it up for me. Then I take it home and use it that day. Having witnessed how big slaughter houses remove every scrap of meat from a carcass...............you don't want to know believe me.
        If you are ever entering Duncan BC from the south look for the Cowichan Valley Meat Market. It's really quit enlightening to see the huge carcasses hanging and to see all the cuts 'from nose to tail' on display for sale.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Puffin3

          Thanks, Puffin. Good to know. This definitely sways me towards the fresh stuff.

          1. re: Puffin3

            OK but how often is that grinder at the butchers cleaned? How much meat from how many cows goes across those blades in a day? Because they are not washing it between customers. Personally we grind our own.

          2. Fresh ground; every last time. I can't handle those meat tubes.

            7 Replies
            1. re: mamachef

              Why can't you handle those meat tubes?

              1. re: damian

                I find them disgusting. I don't like vacuum packed anything, especially that meat. It smells bad when you open it, and looks worse. I like bloody meat, but it's too much for me to handle.

              2. re: mamachef

                That's what she said.

                My problem with the descriptively-named meat tubes is that when you slice one open, the smell is just disgusting. It's not rotten or anything, it's just got this really unpleasant undertone of chemical funk that makes me not want hamburger anymore.

                  1. re: mamachef

                    Thank you both, Jenny and Mama. This is definitely helping me decide what to buy next time I'm at the market.

                    1. re: damian

                      Damian, it's always good to see what you're going to eat before you actually eat it. for your very, very best burger, I recommend freshly ground beef at an 80/20 meat/fat ratio, for your juiciest, most delicious burger. Handle it gently, as you would a little tiny baby, make your patties a little thicker than you think you want them, and put a thumbprint about 1/4" deep in the miiddle, which will keep it flatter and juicier, without the dreaded hamburger swell. also, sometimes I top them with a little teenytiny pat of butter, just for giggles.

                      1. re: mamachef

                        Thanks, Mama. Sounds like good advice.

              3. I celebrate your interest, but this is sort of like saying you're getting into baking and you want to know which boxed cake mix makes the best cake. The stuff that grocery store ground beef is made out of is not worth extra care and tending and interest. It is ammonia, it is nasty by products of pressed meat/fat pink sludge, it is from animals not grown on proper diet or processed in a clean and healthful manner, where the focus is only on speed, not precision or cleanliness, it's irradiated, ammonia filled and can be dangerous for you. At the very least, do your newfound interest and hobby a favor and pair it with finding a local butcher who you can see grinding their own beef (grocery stores get big blocks of beef that they "regrind" so they can say it's 'freshly ground'), preferably someone who can talk intelligently about the source of the beef and what the cows were raised on and where they were processed. Otherwise, how much does it really matter which plastic-covered chemical mess you are buying? Sorry, JMO.

                7 Replies
                1. re: rockandroller1

                  I appreciate your concern, but your reference to a "plastic-covered chemical mess" suggests to me that didn't read the parenthetical in the original post: "I'm deliberately excluding the packaged non-vacuum-packed stuff from this discussion, as that seems to be the worst of both worlds." In other words, I'm only talking about *freshly* ground beef.

                  I don't shop at chain stores. There are a couple of local butchers in my area, plus a few grocery stores that have high-quality meat. I'm only talking about 100% grass-fed here. I know the names of all of the farms that the meats come from, and I know that they're high-quality and pesticide-free.

                  All of the five butchers I just called said they grind it fresh every day and told me exactly what cuts they're using: mostly sirloin, chuck, and trimmings. No ammonia, no irradiation. One of them even offered to grind it for me on-the-spot from my preferred cut of meat if what they have in the case looks too fatty or lean.

                  So again, I appreciate your concern, but you seem to be making assumptions that don't apply to my particular situation.

                  1. re: damian

                    My bad, 100% and my apologies. I guess I misread and the responses afterwards led me to think you were debating between the sort of "fresh" styrofoam packed thing in the meat case vs the frozen block that comes in cryovac plastic. Here's what i don't get:

                    "differences between freshly ground meat, as found in the butcher's case, and the pre-packaged, vacuum-packed stuff..."

                    How is anything that's vacuum packed a freshly ground product? Maybe I'm just not understanding the product you're talking about?

                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      No worries, and apology accepted :)

                      Perhaps I'm not being clear. I'm talking about the big mound of unpackaged freshly ground meat behind the class that the butcher scoops, weighs, and wraps for you on demand vs. the cryovac plastic stuff. I'm not meaning to imply that the cryovac stuff is fresh.

                      I think the confusion comes from a grammatical ambiguity. You're (legitimately) interpreting "freshly ground meat, as found in the butcher's case, and the pre-packaged, vacuum-packed stuff" to mean "freshly ground meat: as found in the butcher's case, and the pre-packaged, vacuum-packed stuff." What I meant was "freshly ground meat (as found in the butcher's case) and the pre-packaged, vacuum-packed stuff." Does the revised punctuation clear up your confusion? :)

                      1. re: damian

                        I think I understand now, but can't get why you would want to consider that cryovac stuff, that's worse than what the grocery store itself is putting in the meat case IMO, a lot of it is just Cargill scrap meat?

                        1. re: rockandroller1

                          I do believe I heard here; "soft serve meat ice cream."

                          1. re: mamachef

                            Thanks, mama. Now I *really* don't want to buy it.

                          2. re: rockandroller1

                            Well, the more I learn about the cryovac stuff, the less interested I get. I had no idea what was in it before this discussion; I just thought it might be considering because of its protection from the air, but the more I learn, the less important that factor seems to be.

                  2. damian,

                    i understand your concern about grinding meat yourself, but having tried it twice I was amazed at how easy it was using a food processor. I'm not suggesting you do it every time, but give it a try once or twice and see if you notice a difference.

                    you might even try a side by side comparison one day. grind your own, get some butcher fresh ground, some of that meat in a tube, some prepackaged grocery store meat, and some grocery store fresh ground. Not everyone has access to a butcher shop any more, they are going the way of blacksmiths and kodachrome, but great if you have it.

                    anyhow try the different types and see what you think, invite a couple of friends over to help taste test, cut the burgers into quarters and see what everyone thinks. just keep the seasoning to a minimum, and eat just the patty, if you make it into a sandwich it's gonna be harder to taste the differences.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      I think part of the problem where I live too is that many small butcher shops are buying from the same sources as the grocery stores. When I started asking questions and didn't like the answers, that's when I started buying from farmer's markets instead. It sounds like damian's butcher shops source better than the ones where I live. A lot of people still go to a small butcher shop assuming they are sourcing from a small or local source, but they aren't most of the time.

                      1. re: rockandroller1

                        I live in Berkeley, California, arguably the foodie capitol of the western United States, so I guess I'm unusually fortunate. My local butchers are extremely knowledgable and conscientious, and can tell me everything I need to know about the local, 100% grass-fed meat they use.

                        1. re: damian

                          Sounds like you have access to Bk. Bowl or Monterey Market, where all the meat is right there for inspection. The Bowl Butchers are happy to do a grind for you and can suggest a blend of meats that will work beautifully, likewise Monterey. I've been graciously served in both spots. Do tell. I had no idea you were a local. Also, check out Gazzali's in East O, on Bancroft in the Eastmont Center - their ground beef is very, very nice.

                          1. re: damian

                            Check out Grassland's chopped meat, fella. I love the flavor; some people don't because it's a little herbacious. Since you're in Berkeley, you can check out a Grasslands' burger at Garibaldi's, without committing to buying any more if it's not to your taste. Ask for a side of the red-wine/ tarragon Bechamel to dip your fries. Oh boy.

                            1. re: mamachef

                              Thanks. Where can I find Grasslands meat?

                              Here's where I shop:
                              1. Berkeley Bowl East
                              2. Berkeley Bowl West
                              3. The Local Butcher in Berkeley
                              4. Marin Sun Farms retail store in Market Hall in Rockridge, Oakland
                              5. Magnani's Poultry (what you're referring to as "Monterey Market," I assume; Monterey Market, which is across the street, only sells produce)

                              They all have 100% grass-fed, fresh beef ground on the premises for $7 per pound. I'll start doing some taste-testing soon :)

                              1. re: damian

                                Either Bowl carries Grasslands. I'm not sure we're talking about the same Montery Market - where is the one you're referring to?

                                1. re: mamachef

                                  Is Grasslands 100% grass-fed? If so, Berkeley Bowl East definitely doesn't carry. I checked with the butcher there this morning: they carry Marin Sun Farms, Estancia, and Eel River—those are the only 100% grass-fed meats they carry. I can't speak for Berkeley Bowl West, however, because I haven't checked there recently.

                                  As for Monterey Market, there's only one Monterey Market in Berkeley of which I am aware, at 1550 Hopkins Street.

                        2. re: KaimukiMan

                          Good idea, Kaimuki. But I have trouble imagining how/why grinding it myself would taste better than having my local butcher (I guess I'm lucky to have one) grind it fresh in front of my eyes, taking it home, and grilling it immediately. Do you see any reason why I might be mistaken?

                          Plus, I should have emphasized before: I'm *extremely* lazy. Even the idea of washing the food processor makes me not want to do it :)

                          1. re: damian

                            I have a meat grinder, and washing it is a PITA for sure. Given the great sources you have locally, I think you have some great choices there and no need to DIY.

                            1. re: rockandroller1

                              I thought seriously about buying an electric meat grinder and just couldn't bring myself to believe that I would get these chunks of meat and suet, if necessary. Drag done the grinder from a shelf, grind the meat and season it if I am making sausage, then clean the grinder and put it back up again. I just couldn't see doing that.

                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                I do it. As with any appliance that you don't typically leave out (food pro for example), you get it out, use it, clean it and put it away. We don't make sausage, we just use it to grind beef (and starting this year, also turkey). It's not a huge deal, any more than cleaning anything as you go. I mean, I think all cleaning/dishes are a PITA, but comparatively, it's no more of a PITA than cleaning a food pro.

                            2. re: damian

                              if you can get it from a true butcher that easily, go for it. i doubt an hour or two difference between self grinding or butcher ground would make any difference at all. butcher ground simply isn't available here in honolulu.

                              1. re: damian

                                Because when you grind it at home, you are starting with a clean meat grinder and making burgers from one piece of meat that came from one cow. Even if the butcher grinds such while you watch I will guarantee they did not wash it between customers so how many cows got processed through that grinder before yours?

                            3. I don't even know where a local butcher is. I go to a grocery store. I'm sure the meat department has the capability to grind it right there before my eyes because I have had them do it for chili meat before.

                              For the most part, you have 3 choices: 1. You can go to the packaged meat area and pick up some ground beef in a styrofoam package with cellophane over it. 2.You can pick up the mylar chubs that were probably packaged at a central packing plant and frozen and sent over to the store. 3. You can go to the meat counter where they will take pre-ground beef and put it in a styrofoam package and stretch cellophane over it...right before your eyes.

                              Now I am not usually going to use the meat the night I buy it. It's going to sit in the fridge for a day or two before I cook it. I used to buy the cellophane packages but I find the mylar chubs more flexible. If I decide not to use it, I can throw it into the freezer. If I open it after a couple of days, it is red not brown like a lot of the cellophane stuff will be.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                You do have another choice - pick out a boneless chuck roast in the supermarket and ask them to grind it for you. They will do that on the spot, no extra charge. I think that's a step above their pre-ground offerings since there's no possibility of pink sludge. Caveat: they are not going to strip and clean their grinder before putting your roast through it, so you may still be picking up bits of whatever else was ground earlier that day. When chuck roasts are on sale, I go that route.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  Fewer and fewer groceries where I live even have a meat grinder, and some grocers have no butcher at all, just people who package up the meat that has come in in bulk. When I started down this journey, I asked to have stuff ground that I picked out from the case but when I started bumping into "we don't have a meat grinder," that's when I bought my own.

                              2. If I can't be positive the butcher cut the beef off a carcass which has been hung at that butcher shop I don't buy it. I know that a high pressure water,air hose didn't blast off the meat blowing it against a tarped wall where it slides down onto a tarp later to be scooped up with snow shovels and dumped into a grinder.
                                If you are ever allowed to watch how every scrap of meat is removed from a carcass in any large 'production' slaughter house you'd never eat beef again. I won't even get into chickens or pigs.
                                I wish posters would refrain from using the word "cow" when referring the what is mostly steer meat. Yes 'heifers' are used as 'beef' sold over the counter but generally these animals have had a number of calves and they are getting too old to make feeding/medicating them, in feed lots especially, not economically sound. Other 'heifers/cows' (term open to debate) that end up in slaughter houses were found to be infertile. If the 'AI' doesn't take after a couple of tries it's off to the slaughter house you go! You can be sure of one thing: If you are buying the cheapest ground beef you can find the chances are you are buying beef that is literally from the bottom of the 'quality' barrel.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Puffin3

                                  I get ground sirloin from a friend who is an old school wholesale butcher who still gets hanging beef and he grinds it fresh several times a day from the trimmings. Its as moist and juicy as chuck but tastes like steak. NO liver flavor like chuck. He will eat it "raw" in front of you so a med rare burger is no problem.

                                  In the future I want to get an good electric grinder (about $250.00) and have him teach me the ropes (blends / fat content & coarseness of the grind) because once he retires its game over. If you think about $250.00 is 2 meals out at a nice restaurant and your buying something that will last a lifetime.

                                2. I do not have a meat grinder or a food processor. The best I can manage for grinding my own is a blender, but it is missing a $1.50 rubber gasket that I have to order from Amazon and have just neglected to do so for like six months. It's ridiculous. Besides, I'm a little unsure about trying to grind meat in my blender.

                                  So I always have to decide between fresh and vacuum packed. Problem is, fresh requires me to get in my car and drive 5-7 minutes or walk 20 minutes, and by the time I decide I want burgers for dinner, most of the butchers / meat markets in my area are closed. So, most often, I have to go to the local, and not very impressive, grocery store to grab some vacuum packed 80-20 chuck from there. I'm cool with that, and it will make a fine burger; had one two nights ago (which was actually a combo of chuck and sirloin). But the fresh stuff is better, IMHO. Grinding it myself would be ideal, but I'm not there yet.

                                  Next purchases, food-equipment wise: that dumb rubber gasket, a new pizza stone (which is a whole other, very interesting, story), and a high-quality meat grinder. I'd love to make my own sausages, too.

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: MonMauler

                                    In a pinch I use store bought for Tacos and things like that where it gets the sh*t cooked out of it. As for burgers, I only eat them Med to Med Rare and won't do that with store bought meat that comes in big cryovac tubes from the big packing houses and is then just re-packaged by the local Shoprite.

                                    90% of the "beef " related food poisoning comes from that crap and the sirloin is tasteless and dry and the Chuck usually has that strong taste with hints of liver. Yuk. Simply not worth the risks.

                                    1. re: Tom34

                                      Some chubs are ground at the packing house and sent to the store. Since it is "processed" only once the chance of comtamination is lower right? Each chub will have an establishment # you can google to know where it is actually packaged.

                                      1. re: aziline

                                        As I said above, 90% of the "BEEF" e-coli contamination comes from ground beef from the big packing houses and every year people die from it and there are major recalls year after year. The source of the e-coli is the packing house, not the downstream supermarkets. Sit down with an old fashion "real" butcher over a couple beers and don't say a word, JUST LISTEN. You will never eat that crap again unless you cook the ever living sh*t out of it.

                                        Then get some "real" ground sirloin from that old fashion butcher that is ground fresh daily and make yourself a med rare hamburger. My family and friends like it as well as a top choice 28 day aged strip loin.

                                        1. re: Tom34

                                          Where do you get the statistic of 90% from? I'd be very interested in reading the article.

                                          Where does your butcher get his meat from? Does he kill steers in the back of his shop or buy from a packing house?

                                          1. re: aziline

                                            In my particular case, the former! I buy my ground beef (and most of my other meat, in fact) directly from a slaughterhouse: Blood Farm in Groton, MA.

                                            The name is a happy accident: it really does belong to the Blood family.

                                            1. re: aziline

                                              Worth pointing out is that even if you get a whole carcass from IBP/Tyson/National et al., then it hasn't been processed much and thus safer than letting them cut up the carcass and grind the meat, add pink slime, etc.

                                              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                Your right Hawk and you said it in 1 sentence. I had time to kill (and a few Bourbons) and broke it down even further. Now its lights out!

                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                  Tom: I'm having a nightcap myself [Buffalo Trace]. Cheers!

                                              2. re: aziline

                                                Well Aziline, the dangerous stuff is on the outside (surface) of the beef. So when you cook a "properly handled" steak med rare, the dangerous stuff on the surface is killed and the steak is safe to eat.

                                                With ground beef, your taking raw beef with potentially dangerous stuff on the surface, grinding it and putting the raw potentially dangerous surface meat into the center of the grind. So now the dangerous stuff is in the center of the burger and a good surface char won't kill it. This is why the Gov. recommends cooking it to a Temp that equates to well done.

                                                All hanging beef is sprayed with chemicals in an attempt to kill the dangerous stuff on the surface. In the smaller operations, a persons reputation & lively hood are on the line & extreme care is given to keep all the trimmings below 38 degrees and grind it as soon as possible, usually several times a day. As a result, the owner of such an operation will usually eat it raw in front of you. My guy will & so will the best chefs in the Mid Atlantic region who buy it from him.

                                                In the big packing houses, the scale of the operations are mind boggling, the wages are low, the workers are low skilled foreign labors who have no stake in the business, are not skilled butchers, the working conditions are horrific and they are routinely cited by the government inspectors for sanitary violations. Several have been shut down for extended periods. Google beef packing house sanitary violation investigations. Media giants like 60 minutes ......... have done many stories on the horrific conditions.

                                                Where does the 90% come from......google ( e-coli BEEF recalls)......almost exclusively they will involve ground beef and ground beef products from the big packing houses.***** In all honestly, for the tens of millions of LBS of ground meat the big packing houses produce every year, its a very small percentage.*****. This is largely due to the repeated dousing of the meat scraps with chemicals, which you ingest when you eat it. Unfortunately, the sanitary conditions are so horrific that even that sometimes does not work and contaminated ground beef products leave the plants. Be unlucky enough to bite into the bad sh*t , you will never forget it provided you live.

                                                As for taste, try a small butcher's fresh ground sirloin provided enough fat is added to keep it juicy. You will never make a burger out of the chain crap again. If you can't get that, buy a good electric grinder and experiment with different blends. I have friends who do this and it has become a hobby and they will never buy chain store ground beef again.

                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                  Thanks for the intro but I know how packing houses work.

                                                  I agree that the scale of operation is mind boggling. It's also mind boggling the lengths they go through to make sure there isn't even a chance of contamination. Horrific sanitary conditions? Really? That's just silly. How many plants have you visited?

                                                  I'm also frustrated that you don't say where this 90% comes from. You want me to look it up for you? No thanks.

                                                  Now if your main "beef" is that you don't like the quality of grind they produce and that small packing houses are the way to go then fine but the rest isn't fair.

                                                  I don't reply to hopefully change your mind. I do because the majority of the country aren't able to buy from small shops with an onsite slaugher facility. I do because I don't want others like myself, who buy meat from the grocery store or a butcher who buys from a packing house, thinking the "big boys" are not concerned about our safety.

                                                  1. re: aziline

                                                    USDA:There are many types of dangerous Pathogenic Bacteria found in ground beef including E.Coli 0157:H7 which can cause death, especially in children. USDA recommends cooking ground beef to 160 degrees & 165 degrees for re-heat. HMMMMMM?????? Since the bulk of the ground meat consumed comes from the big pack houses, the USDA's warning is surely aimed at the corner butcher???? Maybe after 20 jiggers of wild turkey 101.

                                                    This is why most restaurant chains will not cook burgers (Made from packing house ground beef) anything less that 160 Degrees (Well done). This is mandated by their insurance carriers based on statistics compiled by their actuaries. Restaurants that offer Med Rare ground beef products either grind their own of have a trusted local source (Even Food Network productions back this up) .

                                                    I have read the recalls involving ground beef products year after year, the sanitary inspection failures and plant shut downs (Just for starters read the Nebraska Beef LTD saga). Bottom line, I don't need you to do my research, I have done it !!!! My point was, dont believe me, I am not the one eating the stuff, YOU are, do your own research!

                                                    Bottom line: Its a free country, if you feel the big packing houses have "YOUR" best interests at heart, IGNORE the USDA and eat all the med rare burgers made from their beef you want.

                                                    The USDA recommends 165 Degree min finish temp for chicken for similar reasons. Professional Chefs loving working with it, just ask them. Again, its a free country, if you think the big chicken processing plants have YOUR best interests at heart, eat it at 135 degrees.

                                                    Grinding your own: Safer (if you like rare ground beef) & far better tasting and pretty much within reach of everything since all you really need is a $25.00 hand grinder. (You don't even need electricity!) Now if the majority of the US citizens are missing arms I suppose that would be an insurmountable problem!

                                                    In closing, the USDA has major concerns with ground beef, the majority of which comes from the big pack houses. My advice is that if your going to cook it at a temp. less than160 degrees, do your homework, consider all the risks and consider all the alternatives. Eat well Aziline & enjoy !!!!

                                          2. re: Tom34

                                            I've been a little confused about the "cryovac tubes" statements here and above. I have certainly never bought ground meat that comes in a tube. The vacuum sealed ground beef I refer to comes in a package with a styrofoam bottom and has what looks like cling wrap or similar, wrapped over it. Are we talking about the same thing?

                                            1. re: MonMauler

                                              Mon Mauler, most of the supermarket ground meat is ground at the big packing houses and then packaged in cryovac tubes (Chubs) about the diameter of a softball and several feet long and then shipped to the supermarkets . The supermarkets then Re-package it in the packages you speak of with the Styrofoam bottom & cling wrap top.

                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                Ah! Ok. Now I understand. Thanks, Tom.