Purchasing Pointers

Here are some helpful hints to know when purchasing ground beef.

Look for fresh ground beef with a bright cherry-red color. The exception is the darker purplish-red color typical of vacuum-packaged ground beef or the interior of packaged ground beef. When exposed to air, the ground beef will turn bright red.

Purchase on or before the sell-by date on the package.

One pound of fresh ground beef provides four (3 ounce) cooked servings.

Ground beef is labeled according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards and by supermarket preferences. Check the label to determine the lean to fat ration, shown as % lean, % fat.

Not less than 80 per cent

Not less than 85 per cent

Not less than 90 per cent

lean/20 percent fat

lean/15 percent fat

lean/10 percent fat


Safety First

Food safety at home is important in preventing food borne illnesses.

Prevent cross-contamination by washing hands well in hot soapy water before and after handling raw ground beef. Also, wash any surfaces and utensils that have been in contact with raw ground beef.

Cook ground beef thoroughly. Never eat raw or rare ground beef. During grinding, surface bacteria are mixed throughout the ground beef, so it’s important to make sure it’s cooked completely. Also, cooking ground beef to 160°F will destroy E.coli 0157:H7 bacteria.

Cook ground beef patties, loaves and meatballs to an internal temperature of 160°F (medium doneness), until not pink in center and juices show no pink color. Use an instant-read-thermometer inserted horizontally to check the temperature.


Smart Storage

Ground beef is more perishable than other cuts such as roasts and steaks, so prompt and proper storage is a must. Upon arriving home, immediately place ground beef in the coldest part of the refrigerator (36° to 40°F), and plan to use or freeze it within 2 days.

Freeze ground beef in its original transparent wrap for up to 2 weeks. For longer storage, up to 4 months, wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil or place in a food-safe plastic freezer bag.

Defrost in the refrigerator, never at room temperature where bacteria can thrive. Allow 24 hours to defrost a 1 to 1-1/2 inch thick package.


Burger Basics

Use a gentle touch when shaping patties. Over handling results in a firm, compact texture. Always turn patties with a spatula without pressing or flattening which causes loss of flavorful juices and results in dry burgers.



North Dakota Stockmen's Association * 407 S. 2nd St. * Bismarck, ND 58504 * 701-223-2522 * ndsa@ndstockmen.org