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Ground Beef Safety?
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cookies4me



Joined: 02 Nov 2009
Posts: 1
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:04 am    Post subject: Ground Beef Safety? Reply with quote

I just heard about another beef recall from an E.Coli death in the northeast. Is just doesn't seem safe to eat ground beef unless you are getting it from a local source. I first learned about this issue by watching Food, Inc. the movie and it just seems like the government is just not doing enough. Does anyone grind their own meat or offer any other solutions?
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I heard a radio interview with the New York Times reporter who wrote the story about the young dance teacher who became permanently paralyzed after eating ground beef. The sad thing is that the woman was apparently mostly vegetarian but ate meat when visiting her parents and at the houses of other people who like meat.

This reporter says that it is not even safe to grind your own beef unless you are really careful about its source and how it was processed. He claims that the outside of many cuts of meat gets fecal contamination. When the beef is ground, the problem is that bacteria from the surface gets driven into the whole piece of meat, and does not stay on the surface where it gets sterilized when the meat is browned. Disgusting, isn't it? He claims that grinding meat at home is probably safer than eating commercially processed ground beef, where meat from many different animals is mixed together, but it is not safe for things like hamburgers that don
't get cooked all the way through. Ground beef that is crumbled and cooked all the way through as in spaghetti sauce or chili may be better, as there are no undercooked parts. I have tried grinding meat in a food processor in the past. I have stopped doing it, because the food processor itself is not easy to sterilize. The whole interview weirded me out a LOT but I have reminded myself that probably millions of people eat hamburgers daily world-wide, and a lot of those hamburgers are consumed in places like MacDonalds and Burger King which are not picky about sourcing their meat. We do not eat a lot of hamburgers in my house. I am now even a bit more wary than I was before about cooking them.

Dory

P.S. Talk about weird! None of the dogs in my family (we are a dog-loving family) will eat meat that has been ground. They will eat any other meat. What are they smelling in it that we do not?
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dory you have very odd dogs!!!! lol

I cannot recall anyone I've known getting ill from eating ground beef. I've read the articles of outbreaks of e. coli infected meat frequently, almost always sourced in the U.S. and tonnes of food is destroyed. I personally don't concern myself with the issue and consistently prefer my hamburgers pink and juicy. I'll take the risk. Truthfully though most of my beef is currently purchased from a farmwomen a few miles from my house, but that has not always been the case by any stretch. I guess I just resign myself to the idea that there isn't anything in life without a certain degree of risk, but I would have to consider the meat issue pretty darned low risk. I say Barbeque on!!!

Back to the dogs, mine love their morning snack of bits of bread tossed to them outside---but 2 of them refuse to eat white bread, it's gotta be grainy or they aren't interested!
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At ages 7 and 18 I have at least one very old girl. It must be all of the hamburger she is not eating (lol)! Actually, though, I agree with you David. We are not a very hamburger eating household, perhaps because my husband is South American. However, I think that like the threat of kidnapping that seems to have all parents terrorized, the threat of food borne illness is, I think, exaggerated. I think we should be reasonably cautious, and buy our food--especially meat from careful sources, but at the same time we should not ruin our lives with panic. That said, the interview I heard on the radio about the meat packing industry was so gruesome that I will wait until the memory fades before serving hamburger to my family.

Dory
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To address the original question, I always grind my own meat.

No, it's not through fear of contamination. On that issue I agree with Dory. Rather, I grind my own as a form of quality control. I mean, who knows what's going into that pre-ground stuff? What cuts (i.e., scraps)? What grade? And how long have they been sitting around, both before and after grinding?

Then there's the matter of not getting ground meats that I want. Ground lamb is all but impossible to find, around here. And when it is it is pre-frozen New Zealand lamb. Veal? I would never trust somebody else's ground veal. At what that stuff costs, I'm sure there aren't any real cuts used for it. Etc.

We do a lot of game here, as well. Who's going to grind my venison if I don't do it myself? On another thread we discussed my seafood lollipops. You think there's a commercial source of ground fish & seafood? Maybe the catfood factory, but nowheres I shop.

Given the relatively low cost of meat grinders, and the kind of control one gives me, there's just no other option IMO.
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swan



Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 450
Location: a Dutchie in HongKong

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow, I'm impressed. Im I the only one who just happily buys the supermarkets (okay, an upmarket supermarket - and I have no good butcher here) or the supermarket's Butcher's ground beef and cook with it?
(here in HK it's american or australian and always prefrozen. Nothing to be done about that)
I never leave it pink though - I make pastasauces or meatballs or stirfry it, so it's allways well-done. And I do consider that safe. And it's tasty enough. Probably not the highest quality - but not bad at all!

or am I making a mistake here?

(well, no room or energy anyway to do the home grinding-thing, but oh - guys, I do admire you!)
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Deste



Joined: 17 Aug 2005
Posts: 307
Location: Far, far away

PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never say never, but it's gotten to the point where I just don't buy meat very much anymore, and when I do, I generally will pay more at the farmers market.

This is especially the case when it comes to sausage and ground meats.

I live in an area (Mid-Atlantic USA) where there are lots of inexpensive sources for meat, i.e., stores catering to Asian, Latino/a and African populations and I've never heard of families getting sick or dying because of the inexpensive meats they buy there.

However, I am also swayed by arguments about the more humane ways small, independent local operations raise pasture-grazing animals that are destined for our stoves and our tables.

As for grinding your own meat, I've done it in a food processor and know it does improve the flavor when making a time-consuming ragu. (I saved some to make a hamburger, once, and it really was better, too, but I rarely eat burgers at home.)

I also find the ground bison I purchase from local farmers more flavorful than ground beef.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm reminded of Alton Brown's "Burger of the Gods"--

8 ounces chuck, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
8 ounces sirloin, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions
In separate batches, pulse the chuck and the sirloin in a food processor 10 times. Combine the chuck, sirloin, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Form the meat into 5-ounce patties.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmmmm? Typical Alton Brown. Divide 16 ounces into 5-ounce patties and you get 3 patties and an extra ounce. Uh, huh!

Most people would just divide that mixture (if they used it, as there are some problems with it) into four even parts and form the parts into patties.

BTW, I don't like grinding meat in a food processor, as even with pulsing there isn't complete control, and it's easy to liquify some of the meat while other parts of it remain in chunks.

Another tip, whether you use a food processor or meat grinder. Cut your meat into manageable sized pieces. Season the pieces with whatever herbs and spices you are using. Then grind the meat. This assure even distribution of the flavoring ingredients, whereas seasoning after grinding can result in little pockets of herbs and spices. Plus, if you wait until afterwards, there's always the danger of overworking the meat, particularly for burgers.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, 5 and one third ounce should make up these burgers!

I'm almost sure I saw Alton somewhere actually hand chopping (like with 2 sharp knives) some beef too, but I can't locate any reference to it now.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ginger, 5 1/3 ounces is your interpretation. Here, from Alton's printed recipe, is exactly what he says:

[i]In separate batches, pulse the chuck and the sirloin in a food processor 10 times. Combine the chuck, sirloin, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Form the meat into 5-ounce patties.[/i]

Basically what you originally wrote.

Please understand I was not criticizing you. Rather, this recipe demonstrates one of the many reasons why I'm less than enamoured with Mr. Brown. I don't care for his schtick---far as I'm concerned, while he thinks he's a wit I think he's about half right---he continually contradicts himself based on commercial considerations (just how much multi-tasking can you do with a deep fryer or a waffle iron?), and he often makes egregious errors of fact---particularly when it comes to food history.

Mostly what I don't like is his my-way-or-the-highway approach to cooking. The fact is there are numerous ways of achieving any cooking task, and the idea that Alton Brown has the one true word of God while others do not is just repugnant to me.

He always puts me in mind of my buddy Roger, who is an heirlooms tomato authority. Roger starts all his presentations the same way: "There is only one "right" way to grow tomatoes; that's the method that works for you." Cooking is the same, a lesson Alton Brown needs to learn.

I also resent it when he takes credit for things that are clearly not of his doing. If you need an example, take a look at the history of Thousand Island Dressing. Then look at "his" innovation, which makes it ever so much better.
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I watch Alton Brown occasionally, and sometimes (but far from always) learn something. I learned from him that butter freezes well and was vindicated in my assertion that mushrooms do not absorb much water when washed or even soaked in water. I also do not like his assumption that he has the one best way to cook, and I often find his humor over the top.

I have the same issue with Cooks Illustrated magazine, although for some reason I can tolerate their TV show. By definition, cooking is a matter of taste, and we cook to please our own tastes and those of our loved ones-- not the statistical preferences of someone's readers.

I only occasionally eat meat, and prefer locally sourced meat. I also prefer bison to beef when eating red meat. However I am married to a Colombian, and most people with the exception of the very poor eat meat at every meal-- including breakfast-- and usually in very large quantities. I try to cut down on the quantities consumed, and also buy what I can from organic or local sources, but just can't afford it, so I end up going to places like super Target where I basically have no idea where the meat comes from except that it is probably not local. I may start grinding my own, but not in my food processor. It doesn't come out right, and it doesn't seem sanitary.

Dory
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sherri



Joined: 20 Oct 2009
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mostly do mine in a food processor. Works fine. I had a meat grinder but it was corroded so tried it out in the processor one day and didn't look back.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It doesn't come out right, and it doesn't seem sanitary.

As noted above, I agree with you about it not coming out right. There can be consistency problems using a food processor to grind meat. And a food processor can also overheat the meat while it's being worked---one of the reasons they recommend pulsing instead of running full bore.

But I'm confused about your last point.

Why would a food processor be any more or less sanitary than a meat grinder? In fact, because of the small holes in the grinding plates, it's probably more difficult to clean a meat grinder properly than to clean a food processor.
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is my issue with sanitation. I am careful, and squeamish about mixing tools that I use on raw meat and those that I use with other ingredients like vegetables. I don't worry about things like knives that are made out of impermeable materials, and can be easily and carefully sanitized. However, I use separate cutting boards and dish sponges (actually, I am VERY careful about keeping meat sponges clean) for meat and vegetables, and I carefully sanitize the meat cutting boards after each use. Obviously I do not worry about pots and pans, as they are heated to the point where cross contamination is not an issue, and I do not worry about cooked meat as long as it is not spoiled. I fearlessly slice pot roast on the vegetable curring board, for example. However, I don't like mixing raw meat and other ingredients in the food processor. Plastic is very porous.You can see that when you use plastic containers for tomatoes, for example, and my food processor is full of tiny scratches. Worse, for me, I live in a 90 year old house with an ancient kitchen that does not have tons of storage space, so we have chosen not to sacrifice storage for a dishwasher-- yet-- although I am coming close, and I am not sure hand washing sanitizes dishes as much as a dishwasher. I don't think I have OCD, but raw meat cross-contamination grosses me out. If I had a designated meat food processor and it worked well, I would use it, but for now, I like to keep meat and veggies separate when raw. I don't like, for example, making biscuits in the same food processor I have just used for grinding meat. Again, I think I am probably over the top on this issue. Food processors (and cutting boards) dry out between uses, and I doubt that many harmful bacteria actually survive on them.

Dory
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