1

votes

Can you identify grassfed ground beef just by looking at it?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 12, 2011 at 12:41 AM

I recently picked up a split half from a new beef provider. My guy uses a meat processor that's close to where I live. It is a meat store/processor and they do a lot of deer at this time of year. They were very busy at the time of my processing and they were over a week late getting it done.

To make a long story short, there were other problems, too. They didn't give me the suet, kidneys, liver, or bones that I was promised. The processor said that the animal's liver was "bad" and they offered to make it up to me "after the first of the year." (There was no explanation for the other missing items.) Of course, their shop sells feedlot animals so that's what I'm guessing they would be giving me. I declined.

While I was bummed out about this turn of events, the steaks looked good. Tasted good. Then I opened a 1-lb package of ground beef, which was in a white "sleeve," wrapped like a fat sausage. (I have something like 40 more of these packages.) I was surprised that the meat was pink. Like conventional, supermarket beef. I have never had grassfed ground beef that wasn't bright red. I opened a second one. Same thing.

I'm thinking that the processor filled out my order with ground beef from a feedlot cow. Is grassfed beef readily distinguishable from a feedlot animal by the color?

I must say, I am not sure I trust my judgment on the taste aspect of it. It tasted good to me, but lacked something in texture. And the color, again, is unlike any grassfed beef. It just looks pale.

Thoughts?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 08, 2012
at 01:54 AM

You'd have to significantly increase MUFA/PUFA to have liquid beef fat, even pork fat with higher MUFA/PUFA is solid at room temperature. So, Mercola is probably wrong. As for the amount of fat, that's completely due to processing and how much fat is added back to the ground.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 14, 2011
at 12:16 PM

Thanks. The trust level is not high, because of the mixup with the liver. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 13, 2011
at 01:52 AM

Well the supplier is not the problem. Seems the processor is getting their animals mixed up. The supplier says that feedlot animals can have messed up livers. Who would have thought? But, yes, the supplier is using a crappy processor, so I'm officially on the market. Again.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on December 12, 2011
at 12:26 PM

I have, actually, but granted it was not fresh off of the cow. Pre-packaged 1lb ground beef from Georgia is trucked to stores throughout the South. Not only was the color dull, but there was literally NO taste!

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 12, 2011
at 05:33 AM

Nemesis, I've had some very red, nice-looking conventional ground beef; however, I've never had grassfed that looks blandly pink.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:58 AM

Exactly! I used to buy beef in bulk years ago and each animal was subtly different. It'd be a heavy feeling in my stomach if I didn't feel I got a) everything I expected and b) from the same critter.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:28 AM

Thanks for the link Sara S. I still feel like I'm missing the definitive answer.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:27 AM

Still, with the ground stuff it's usually quite consistent. I've bought hundreds of pounds of grassfed ground beef. And it's always been more like burgundy wine than watered down pinot noir...

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:25 AM

It's possible I suppose.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:24 AM

I will not be using them again. It's a shame, because it really comes down to bad/nonexistent communication with the processor. I have no doubt that this particular farm is passionate about what they do. The guy called me to apologize; but apologies aside, it's a $500 outlay and I don't feel good about the outcome.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:20 AM

You might be able to smell the difference between grass and grain-fed. I've had some grain-fed beef that was amazingly red and rich, so it's hard to base it off of appearance alone.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:10 AM

Also, this PH questions is related and you may find it helpful: http://paleohacks.com/questions/59381/what-should-grass-fed-beef-look-like

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:08 AM

Thanks for sharing your experience. It's a good cautionary tale. I agree with Nance and hope you don't have to use them again.

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10 Answers

5
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 12, 2011
at 12:48 AM

All the grassfed ground beef I've had has been pretty dark but I don't know how you could prove they pulled a switch on you. i guess it could be variable based on exactly what goes in and the age of the animal. But still, this whole thing doesn't seem to pass the nose test.

I hope you aren't planning to do business with them again.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:58 AM

Exactly! I used to buy beef in bulk years ago and each animal was subtly different. It'd be a heavy feeling in my stomach if I didn't feel I got a) everything I expected and b) from the same critter.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:24 AM

I will not be using them again. It's a shame, because it really comes down to bad/nonexistent communication with the processor. I have no doubt that this particular farm is passionate about what they do. The guy called me to apologize; but apologies aside, it's a $500 outlay and I don't feel good about the outcome.

3
6deba5d1391abaf5d0b8af62c6bdbe54

on December 14, 2011
at 10:33 AM

Careful before you pass judgement on a meat processor just by the color of a farmers beef. I'm a processor. The light color of the ground is likely due to one of two things (or a combo of both of them). Young animal & high fat content ground. Neither of which the processor has any control over.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 14, 2011
at 12:16 PM

Thanks. The trust level is not high, because of the mixup with the liver. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

3
5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:10 AM

Don't quote me but I think it matters which muscles they used too. The darker meat is usually the slower twitch muscles (at least this applies to fish and fowl). I have even seen really different colors on the same piece of shank cut meat, one muscle different shade than another.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:27 AM

Still, with the ground stuff it's usually quite consistent. I've bought hundreds of pounds of grassfed ground beef. And it's always been more like burgundy wine than watered down pinot noir...

1
E791387b2829c660292308092dc3ca9b

(831)

on September 10, 2012
at 03:42 PM

I own my own cows and have had them processed for years and I have never gotten pink ground meat back from 100% grassfed. I think you got ripped off. One thing I recommend is never have your meat processed during deer season. Most small processors are busting their butts and a mistake is a lot more likely. I highly doubt your liver was "bad" either they messed it up during the butchering process or they completely forgot your special instructions because they were too busy. Amy raised 2 points on the age of the animal and the fat content. If it is 100% grassfed you won't have high fat content. Unless your cow was 9 months old or younger you didn't get veal either and your steaks would have reflected the same pale color. I would definitely use a different processor next time.

1
B3e7d1ab5aeb329fe24cca1de1a0b09c

(5242)

on December 12, 2011
at 05:33 AM

I agree that from my observations that grass fed beef is usually darker than grain fed, but I by no means think that is any hard and fast way to know for sure.

Sodium nitrate, a preservative, when used with meat will make it a more red / pink colour. It has been used illegally in Australia by butchers to restore the colour of older meat that was becoming dark / grey. I'm not sure if other preservatives have a similar affect, but given the colour of your beef I would be inquiring to see if the processor used any preservatives with your meat.

And after your experience I would also be looking for a new beef supplier. Bad liver?! What is all that about?

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 13, 2011
at 01:52 AM

Well the supplier is not the problem. Seems the processor is getting their animals mixed up. The supplier says that feedlot animals can have messed up livers. Who would have thought? But, yes, the supplier is using a crappy processor, so I'm officially on the market. Again.

1
A6b2325aefabe3e40c89646e40223f6f

on December 12, 2011
at 01:05 AM

Could it be due to a higher fat content than you're used to?

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:25 AM

It's possible I suppose.

0
A048b66e08306d405986b6c04bf5e8e4

on January 17, 2013
at 06:32 AM

at my local Sprouts they color code the condainers in which the grassfed beef is sold, and the grassfed steaks are a little smaller than the same cuts of corn fed beef, but aside from that it might be pretty difficult to tell apart a grassfed beef from grain fed beef

0
Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on January 08, 2013
at 06:32 PM

Take a look at the picture here:

http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/4/5/wild-vs-grass-vs-grain-fed-ruminants.html

Yellow/greenish liquid comes off when frying grass fed ground beef.

0
B15ff70e2b4c4197a5f47e3521c24f40

(0)

on January 08, 2013
at 05:12 PM

I recently got some grassfed ground beef that was light pink as well. I asked the farmer and he said it was from a young animal. It cooked up to the color of ground turkey, but was still tender and juicy.

0
D466c6cf0f9e8fcfb48e71c65f1085d4

on November 08, 2012
at 12:48 AM

I read from Dr. Mercola that grass fed hamburger grease will remain a liquid at room temperature if it's truly grass fed. Anyone else know this is true? I have been buying grass fed for years and due to the drought, I bought from another farmer. The beef is great but the hamburger will cause a grease fire on my grill the fat content is so high. I am starting to believe I was taken. what do you think?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 08, 2012
at 01:54 AM

You'd have to significantly increase MUFA/PUFA to have liquid beef fat, even pork fat with higher MUFA/PUFA is solid at room temperature. So, Mercola is probably wrong. As for the amount of fat, that's completely due to processing and how much fat is added back to the ground.

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