Benchmarking U.S. beef retail cut composition
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An assortment of 1,551 retail cuts were purchased from eleven cities across the United States to study their physical and chemical composition. Information with regard to external fat thickness, package weight, price per kilogram, and total package price were collected at the retail store. Cuts were purchased and later dissected into four different separable components, separable lean, external fat (carcass and cut), seam (intermuscular) fat, and bone and heavy connective tissue. Chemical fat analyses were conducted on the separable lean component of each dissected cut. Dissection data showed that cuts originating from the round had the highest means for separable lean percentages, resulting in the lowest means for separable fat percentages. Cuts from the rib were found to have the highest separable fat percentage means, thus the lowest separable lean percentage means. Chemical fat data mirrored dissection data, with round cuts having the lowest means for percent extractable fat for the separable lean (only) and rib cuts producing the highest means. In general, ground beef packages had a lower percentage of extractable fat than the fat percentage that was declared on the retail package label. This study was designed to acquire data on cuts presently available at the retail level and compare their composition to data presented in the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. It must be noted that separable fat percentages are not available for many of cuts sampled for this survey. Additionally, data reported in the Nutrient Database encompasses only retail cuts trimmed to 1.25 cm, 0.6 cm, 0.3 cm, and 0.0 cm. Cuts from this study consistently had fat thickness measurements between 0.0 cm and 0.3 cm; thus, there is no nutritional information in the Nutrient Database for beef cuts trimmed to these levels.
Adams, Carrie Lynn (2006). Benchmarking U.S. beef retail cut composition. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from