Why You Need To Stop Buying Ground Beef minced mince-min

Why You Need To Stop Buying Ground Beef

So many recipes call for ground beef (or mince meat, depending on where you’re from). It’s on sale in every supermarket and butcher, but what exactly is in it – and should you buy it?

What Actually Is It?

The point of mince meat, is to use all of the bits of the animal that can’t be used elsewhere. Commercially produced ground beef will typically contain parts from hundreds of different carcasses. This product is also a good way to make use of old dairy cattle, and other animals that wouldn't be used for the popular cuts of meat. A pack of ground beef could contain all sorts of different parts of thousands of cows, yet the ingredients will still say “100% beef”.

Why You Need To Stop Buying Ground Beef minced mince-min

The E. Coli Risk

The other significant problem with ground beef, is the health risk.

E. Coli can get into the food chain when the dirty exterior (and particularly any faeces) come into contact with the inside of the meat – the bits that go into the mince.

In a small scale operation cross contamination like this is unlikely, but in a large processing plant, where workers are under pressure to turn around as many animals as possible, the risk is far higher. The way ground meat is made, means any bacteria that has accumulate on the surface of the meat will rapidly permeate through the whole product.

Where so many animal parts are present in one product, the risk is obviously greatly increased. To mitigate the risk, the meat is often vacuumed, washed with hot water and lactic acid, but these measures do not guarantee safety.

What’s The Solution?

For me, the solution is making my own ground beef. I have bought an old fashioned, hand operated mincer, that clamps to my kitchen counter. This means I can buy my own grass-fed organic beef, from my trusted butcher. This way I know exactly what my minced meat contains, I can make it fresh when I need it, and won’t need to store it, which will help the bacteria risk.

Do you make your own ground meat? I’d love to hear your thoughts on minced meat, and whether you’re happy to buy it, or make your own.

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21 replies
  1. Lily
    Lily says:

    I used to buy minced meat but never again, not after the scare we have had in the UK, as horsemeat has been included in so many beef products. I keep wondering what else is included, hope there is more control very soon.

  2. PaleoFastUK
    PaleoFastUK says:

    Agree although I am guilty as cahrged as i ahve been buying mince a lot in supermarket mostly organic…another solution is to get to know your butcher and his sources of meat and but a decent cut of beef off the counter and ask him to mince it for you…but yes home made is ALWAYS best!

    • Suz
      Suz says:

      Yes, a good trusted butcher is an option – especially those that immediately mince the meat in front of you!

  3. Galina L.
    Galina L. says:

    I make my own ground meat. Sometimes I buy just very lean conventional meat and ground it together with grass-fed beef fat. It is also possible to add a beef heart or a beef tong to your ground meat. When the meat is grounded, I put in a meat grinder big pieces on raw onion to push the rest of meat out.

  4. living_insanity
    living_insanity says:

    We did a cow share and about 5 people participated in buying packaged cow from a local farmer and it included ground meat. I can’t wait to try it and see if it tastes different from the grocery store packaged meat!

  5. Lars T
    Lars T says:

    I buy mine already ground, but from a grassfed/pastured CSA. I do want to grind my own, and have an electric grinder. That might be my resolution for next week!

  6. amorris
    amorris says:

    I get most minced meat from a trusted butcher who grounds it daily.
    Last time I got it from the supermarket it was bright red on top and brown underneath (filled with gas) and it put me off.

  7. Mike
    Mike says:

    I am fortunate to be able to make ground meat from venison. Between me, my dad, and my sons, we usually get enough deer to keep us in ground meat for the year. I have a local butcher that mixes 15% beef fat from ribeye and tenderloin cuts. This is a good mix for me as it leaves little or no grease. The last time I bought ground meat I was disgusted. I had to scrape my hands of all the fat from making hamburger patties. Plus I enjoy my hamburgers medium rare and venison allows me to do this. I would not dream of eating store bought any way but over cooked

  8. Katrina
    Katrina says:

    Hi there,

    Have just found this great site, ironically after searching for Woolworth’s position on wether or not their MSA range of beef is grass feed or not, so you’ve answered what I needed to know there, then went on to find this post on Ground Beef!! I purchased the Aldi electric grinder 12 months ago, it was one of the best kitchen appliances I have ever bought (doesn’t out do my Thermomix though!!). It has never failed me, I purchase my meet form a local organic butcher on the Gold Coast and grind away. One thing that amazed me when I first used my home ground beef, was no ‘shrinkage’ of my meat. Scares me to think what is actually in commercial ground beef that is not labelled……just like many other things in our ‘super’markets!

  9. Shaleah
    Shaleah says:

    Katrina, I live on the Gold Coast too. Would love the name or location of your butcher? My favorite one was sold to a new owner and it’s all gone downhill since then. Thanks!

    • Antje
      Antje says:

      There is one butcher in Arundel at the Clock tower shopping centre. It is between the new hospital and Harbour Town. There is a new one in Miami at the Water Way shopping centre.

  10. tina
    tina says:

    Since the ‘pink slime’ being added to ground beef came to light, I bought the grinder attachment to my kitchenaid stand mixer and started grinding my own. We make burger patties and 1lb ground beef packages and vacuum seal them for storage in the freezer. Saves money and tastes way better than the commercial bought stuff. I also make blends so it’s part beef/pork/veal. I have also done this with chicken and turkey. The family prefers my turkey burgers to the beef ones!

  11. calum
    calum says:

    I think what your highlighting are issues with nearly all large scale meat production and also processed meats, not just mince. If you think about the quality of chicken nuggets turkey twirlers etc none of its any good and has similar risks. Even whole cuts of meat from the supermarkets such as steak etc aren’t great as the animals are often fed on a diet of concentrate food (producing this feed is part of the reason animal farming has such a large carbon footprint) rather than their natural diet of grass which is far healthier for us (you are what you eat and the same applies to the animals!) When it comes to meat it really has to be quality not quantity for the health of and well being of all parties, us, the animals and the planet. I don’t really agree with the title of your article which is why i decided to comment as it is possible to buy wonderful quality ground beef. Saying that I can see in the comments about using a trusted butcher and cow shares etc. Overall an interesting article raising the issue around quality meat and where to find it


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