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Feb 5, 2014 11:47 AM

Costco Fresh Ground Beef not great

I'm a huge Costco fan and shop there frequently. One item I'm not fond of is their fresh ground beef. It makes lousy burgers, dry and tough. Does anyone know what they are grinding? It looks like some kind of round to me, very lean.

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  1. unless you watch your butcher grind up a chuck steak in front of your eyes I am not sure you really want to ask "what are they grinding" anywhere.

    edit to add..
    one thing I hate that supermarkets do is market "lean" ground beef as better - for burgers this is not the case you want a fatty cut. You will actually get a better burger out of the cheap stuff in a tube that %75 or %80 lean vs the more expensive %90 - of course you still don't what to know what or who is really in the tube

    4 Replies
    1. re: JTPhilly

      Lean ground beef isn't more expensive because it's better, it's more expensive because it costs more to make. More meat has to be ground, as opposed to cheaper fat being used to fill out the mix. Where I work, fattier ground beef is made from the trim left over from when the whole cow is broken down. This trim is around 80% lean and 20% fat. Lean beef has to be ground either from cuts that could be sold as steaks, roasts or stew meat, or from picking the leanest pieces out of the trim (leaving the remaining fat to be sold on its own at a much reduced cost). Granted, this is just the way we do things. Every butcher and supermarket seems to have a different system. That said, compare the cost of lean ground beef to the cost of a round roast. It's probably fairly similar.

      Another thing to consider is that lean ground beef turns dark a lot faster than fattier ground beef (unless it has been gassed with carbon monoxide, which I hear is fairly common), so many supermarkets may be trying to move the (more expensive) product before it turns dark and nobody will buy it.

      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

        Does costco regrind the steaks they've got in house? Because I've sure seen a lot of variation in their "at least 88% lean"...

        1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

          Interesting point on the darkening, I don't disagree it costs more and should but I think a lot of people buy the more expensive lean ground meat thinking it will be better and healthier when in fact it makes for terrible burgers. I suppose it is the consumer preference for less fat that drives this as much as the merchandising does.

        2. re: JTPhilly

          i like me a lean burger. Dunno about you.

        3. Just bought some in DE that was 80/20 and not at all lean.

          1. Did you check the fat to meat ratio on your package? My Costco sells 88% lean ground beef. A lot of people prefer 80/20, but I find the 88/12 at Costco isn't bad at medium rare.

            2 Replies
              1. re: JungMann

                I buy the 88/12 from Costco frequently but I'm not sure I trust their numbers. It tends to be a lot greasier than 85/15 I buy elsewhere. I'm sure it depends on the location, though, since they grind on site.

              2. I also dislike Costco's ground beef. It never feels right, always makes lousy burgers, doesn't form a patty well, and always seems dry. I agree.

                On the up side - they are one of the few retailers that re-test for e-coli in house before grinding. It has made them unpopular with major beef distributors but I applaud their effort.

                I just wish I liked it better.

                1 Reply
                1. re: thimes

                  If you notice Costco sells a lot of fresh items that are not the most desirable (standard) size or variety. For example in produce russet potatoes, lemons and some apples are very large. Because these items are generally served in single portions but are sold by weight (as opposed to being sold by pieces) they are cheaper. I wonder if this is why they don't grind chuck 80/20? It has gotten too expensive.

                2. Their ground beef is too lean for burgers.