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How to tell if ground meat has filler?

by (2713)
Updated about 23 hours ago
Created March 05, 2010 at 6:48 PM

Was watching Food, Inc. where they had a segment on the production of ground beef fillers that are cleansed by ammonia. Ick.

It made me wonder: How can we tell if the ground meat we're eating or cooking contains fillers? Any good ways to tell by texture, color, etc.? Or is the only way essentially to do a blood glucose test after eating the meat?

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1336 · March 25, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Not true! Buy from a local farmer you know and trust. No way does any of the beef in my freezer contain fillers or additives.

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7275 · March 25, 2012 at 2:35 PM

If you want to comment on one of the answers, you should click "add comment" under that particular answer, not type your reply in the "Your Answer" box at the bottom. Also, sometimes stew-beef sized chunks are stuck together to form a steak using transglutaminase. Whether that is worrisome or not is up to the individual, but it's true that it doesn't have to be labeled as such. If you want to read more about it, Mark Sisson wrote a great article about it: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/meat-glue-separating-fact-from-fiction.

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1132 · February 02, 2011 at 11:35 AM

I believe they have to state on the label in UK supermarkets.

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39841 · February 02, 2011 at 12:00 AM

How do you tell if it's grass-fed?

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10502 · March 05, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Gary, amazing question. Keep it up!

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11 Answers

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321 · March 06, 2010 at 12:19 PM

If you are buying conventional beef on a conventional budget at a conventional US supermarket, pull a chuck roast out of the meat case, bring it to the butcher counter, and ask them to grind it into hamburger for you. Most supermarkets will do that for you for free, it takes just a few minutes, and the difference in price per pound is fairly small. Also, yum.

If you're at a supermarket, odds are high that if they grind their own ground beef on-site -- as many supermarkets do -- that it's fine; but having them do it for you to order means that you'll know for sure what's in there.

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2485 · March 05, 2010 at 9:49 PM

If you want to ensure the quality of your ground beef, it's easy to make it yourself in a food processor from cuts of chuck and sirloin. Alton Brown takes this on in an episode of Good Eats:

Good Eats: A Grind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste (on YouTube)

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1137 · March 05, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Buy grass-fed from local farmers.

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56616 · March 05, 2010 at 7:01 PM

I have my meat custom ground by a butcher or farmer that I trust so I don't get fillers.

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203 · March 07, 2010 at 10:12 PM

Actually, "don't eat it" is the answer. The reason is ground meat is in fact garbage, a mix of stuff that's otherwise unsellable, left in possibly unsanitary conditions until there was enough of it to make ground meat from. People get food poisoning from ground meat, not from steak or cutlets (usually) and that's for a reason: bacteria accumulate on the surface of meats, not on the insides but in ground meat they disperse throughout the product.

So it's not "filler" I'd worry about (factory produced ground meat is probably fatty western meat mixed with fat free - and probably otherwise inedible - meat from, say, Botswana - not in itself a toxic mix) but the way it was made.

Unfortunately, grinding meat is not something you can do yourself unless you own specialized equipment (a blender or a food processor turns meat into a pulp, which is quite different from grinding it). Until you can, it's probably best to avoid it. Even grass fed organic meat makes for pretty unsavory ground meat if it's produced in unsanitary conditions (and it usually is).

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2759 · March 06, 2010 at 1:13 AM

Hmm... "Don't eat it" does not answer the question.

Gary, it looks like a lot of the fillers that meat producers add are other parts of cows so you probably can't tell with a blood test - that would only tell if someone added a carb source to the meat. (Hmmm... if there's a blood test for an e. coli infection that might work, too.)

I am guessing that the way to tell before eating is to assume that if it's cheap and pre-ground - and especially if it's frozen - then it would be safe to assume that it has industrial meat by-products ground into it.

I found this article (and the NYTimes article it refers to) useful for answering this question: http://simplegoodandtasty.com/2010/01/30/better-burgers-a-guide-to-buying-top-quality-great-tasting-ground-beef

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0 · March 09, 2012 at 1:24 AM

Fillers or 'meat glue' are added to all types of meat. Ground, steaks, roasts. It's done in a way that you can't tell and they don't have to tell you. I would love it if some one could point out some identifier, but those of you grinding from 'better cuts' rather than 'ground garbage' may be consuming the exact same product.

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1336 · March 25, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Not true! Buy from a local farmer you know and trust. No way does any of the beef in my freezer contain fillers or additives.

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4991 · February 02, 2011 at 8:35 AM

I had no idea they added fillers! I had always assumed that the ground (minced) beef I buy here in the UK was just pure beef.

I shall start making my own - I've got an attachment for my Kenwood Chef sitting in a cupboard which is now going to see some serious use!

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1132 · February 02, 2011 at 11:35 AM

I believe they have to state on the label in UK supermarkets.

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8270 · February 02, 2011 at 5:09 AM

There's no way to tell (glucose test won't help you). You're thinking fillers like grains and the like. However, that's not the only filler in there. Could be horse/kangaroo/whatever other cheap stuff is available (not likely in store ground beef, but in the stuff ground elsewhere and brought in on the sealed packages?).

Get it ground at the supermarket (while you watch) if you want to be sure what's in it, and the quality of it.

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-2 · March 25, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Hey DeeVo - I can see that we all might be afraid of the fillers now that it has been brought to our attention, but you are soooo paranoid. You need to relax. Fillers in a steak? Common, get real.

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7275 · March 25, 2012 at 2:35 PM

If you want to comment on one of the answers, you should click "add comment" under that particular answer, not type your reply in the "Your Answer" box at the bottom. Also, sometimes stew-beef sized chunks are stuck together to form a steak using transglutaminase. Whether that is worrisome or not is up to the individual, but it's true that it doesn't have to be labeled as such. If you want to read more about it, Mark Sisson wrote a great article about it: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/meat-glue-separating-fact-from-fiction.

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78422 · February 01, 2011 at 11:45 PM

how about eating pussy is that still safe in america? cause there aint nothing better on this earth then sliding your toungue up and down the crack of some sluts ass, and sucking on her wet juicy clit and pumping her pussy with your fingers. My God the taste is soooo good. best meat i have ever had guranteed.

Medium avatar
39841 · February 02, 2011 at 12:00 AM

How do you tell if it's grass-fed?

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