Ground Beef vs Hamburger - Do you know the difference?

Jul 19, 2017

2Ground beef accounts for an estimated 60% of all beef consumption in the U.S. and is a frequent purchase in many households. Consumers are familiar with the terms hamburger and ground beef, but often use them interchangeably.

Ground beef is made up of only skeletal muscles, only muscle attached to bone, no variety meats such as organs. Some retailers feature ground round, sirloin or chuck, and these labels mean only primal cuts or trim from those specific wholesale cuts are allowed into that product. In both ground beef and hamburger a maximum of 30% of fat is allowed. Additionally, either ground beef or hamburger may not have added water, phosphates, extenders or binders. Therefore, the main difference comes down to the way fat is added. All ground beef can only be made using fat from meat trimmings; no additional fat may be added. Hamburger however, can add fat to the lean mixture to reach the desired fat content level.

The lean-to-fat ratio gives a quantitative description of the composition of the product. A package with the label “80% fat free” indicates there is 20% fat in that product. It also can be labeled as 80/20, which is just another way of saying 80% lean, 20% fat. In order for a beef product to be labeled as a “lean” product there must be less than 10 grams of fat within each 100 grams, so less than 10%. To claim “extra lean”, each 100 grams of beef must contain less than 5 grams of fat, or 5%. There are a wide variety of supply, with the combinations and assortments of hamburger and ground beef that fit the need of each consumer.

Robert Maddock, Associate Professor at North Dakota State University explains how ground beef is made and give tips on what to look for when purchasing ground beef. 



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