|Script: – Let’s Talk Beef
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety at home podcast
series. These podcasts were designed with you in mind - the consumer - who purchases and
prepares meat, poultry and processed meat, egg products for your family and friends.
Each episode will bring you a different food safety topic ranging from safe storage, handling,
and preparation of meat, poultry and processed egg products to the importance of keeping foods
safe during a power outage.
So sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Welcome to “Food Safety at Home.” This is Kathy Bernard with the
Food Safety and Inspection Service. I’m your host for this
segment. With me today is Tina Hanes, technical information
specialist from FSIS’ Food Safety Education Staff. Tina and I
will discuss the safe handling and cooking of beef.
Hello Tina, welcome to the show.
Thank you Kathy. First, I would like to say that this podcast is
about whole muscle beef, like steaks and roasts and not ground
beef. For information about ground beef, listen to “Focus on
Ground Beef” available as part of this "Food Safety at Home”
Tina, let’s talk about what consumers should look for when
shopping for cuts of beef. Is all beef inspected and graded and
what are the different beef grades that a consumer would find in
Inspection is a food safety process that is mandatory for beef.
Grading is voluntary and focuses on the meat’s quality, not
safety. Most of the beef sold at retail food stores is graded
USDA Prime, Choice, or Select. Stores may use other terms which
differ from USDA grades.
USDA Prime beef makes up about two percent of graded beef. It
has more marbling, so it’s the most tender and flavorful. Most
USDA Prime beef goes to restaurants.
What is marbling and why is it important?
Marbling is white flecks of fat within the meat muscle. The
greater amount of marbling in beef, the higher the grade because
marbling makes beef more tender, flavorful, and juicy.
Explain more about the different cuts of beef found in retail
Beef is separated into four major cuts known as primal cuts.
They are: chuck, loin, rib and round. It’s recommended that
packages of fresh beef be labeled to identify the primal cut as
well as the type of product, such as “chuck roast” or “round
steak.” This helps you determine the best way to cook it.
Generally, chuck and round are less tender and require moist
heat such as braising, and loin and rib can be cooked by dry
heat methods such as broiling or grilling.
Some stores sell aged beef. What is that?
Beef is aged to develop additional tenderness and flavor. It is
done commercially under controlled temperatures and humidity.
Since aging can take from ten days to six weeks, USDA does not
recommend aging beef in a home refrigerator.
How long can I store beef once I get it home?
When buying raw beef, select it just before checking out at the
register. If available, put the packages of raw beef in
disposable plastic bags, to contain any leaks which could
cross-contaminate other foods in your cart.
Take beef home immediately and refrigerate it at forty degrees
Fahrenheit and use it within three to five days or freeze it at
0 degrees Fahrenheit. If kept frozen continuously it will be
It is safe to freeze beef in its original packaging or to
repackage it. However, for long-term freezing, overwrap the
porous store plastic with aluminum foil, freezer paper, or
freezer-weight plastic wrap to prevent freezer-burn.
What about precooking beef for grilling? Some consumers like to
do this to reduce grilling time. Is that safe?
It is safe to partially pre-cook or microwave beef if it will be
immediately transferred to a hot grill to finish cooking. Never
brown or partially cook beef to refrigerate and finish cooking
later because any bacteria present wouldn’t have been destroyed.
You can learn more about the safe handling of beef and find the
recommended safe minimum internal cooking temperatures for meat
and poultry on the FSIS Web site at:
Or visit us online for assistance from our virtual
representative “Ask Karen” at askkaren.gov.
Consumers may also call our toll-free USDA Meat & Poultry
Hotline at 1-888- MPHotline. That’s 1-888-674-6854.
That’s it for this week. We’ve been talking to Tina Hanes from
the FSIS’ Food Safety Education Staff. Thanks Tina, for the
helpful information about beef. I’m Kathy Bernard, and I’d like
to thank you for joining us for this episode of “Food Safety at
Home.” And remember, “Be Food Safe.”
Well, that’s all for this time. Thanks for joining us today for another episode of
food safety at home!
For answers to your food safety questions call USDA's toll-free meat and poultry hotline
at 1-888-mphotline. That’s 1-888-674-6854.
You can also get answers to food safety questions online from our virtual representative
"ask karen" at www.askkaren.gov .
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your comments to
Thanks for tuning in.
Last Modified: October 14, 2009