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?
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.
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)
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
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).
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.
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!
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.
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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