Today, the American consumer has more money to spend on the widest variety of foods than at any other time in our history.
We spend approximately 14 percent of our income on food and eat about 50 percent of our meals at home. The average American will eat over 200 pounds of meat this year, and beef accounts for more than 30 percent of that total.
Although meat remains the centerpiece of many meals, consumers still have questions about cooking, quality and food safety.
Liz Kingland, Bourbon County Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent will be presenting Meats 101: Beef, at the Extension Education Center on Tuesday, April 29, at 1 and 6:30 p.m.
This lesson will cover nutritional value of beef; wet age vs. dry age; prime, choice, and select cuts of beef; grain fed; buying local meats; fat content of beef; and cooking methods based upon the cut of meat selected. We will also provide recipes and a sample.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the products in the grocery store meat case.
Is it safe to eat a steak that is cooked to rare or medium rare?
Most consumers fear possible bacterial contamination in steaks cooked to a lower degree of doneness.
Cooking is the best way to destroy bacteria, which do not have the ability to bore to the center of whole muscle meat cuts and only live on the surface. The vast majority of bacteria on the surface of whole muscle meat cuts will be destroyed at 160 degrees F, and most cooking surfaces are heated to over 300 degrees F.
Ground meats have a greater surface area and should not be cooked to rare (140 degree F, internal temperature) or medium rare (150 degree F, internal temperature). Each strand of ground product has a surface area; thus, those strands in the middle can harbor pathogenic bacteria. Ground meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees F.
Whole muscle cuts such as steaks, chops, and roasts can be cooked to a very rare, rare or medium rare degree of doneness and still be safe for human consumption.
Is eating meat good for you?
Meat easily fits into a healthful diet. Meat contains all the essential amino acids and meat proteins, which are 95-100 percent digestible, whereas plant proteins are only 65-70 percent digestible.
Although meat does contain saturated fats, lean cuts are available.
Meat is a good source of vitamins and minerals and is the only natural source for certain B vitamins. Iron in meat is four times more absorbable than iron from other food sources, including spinach. Meat consumption is vital for cognitive development of children and young adults.
For more information on meats, especially beef, sign up for one of the workshops April 29 or call the Madison County Cooperative Extension Service, 623-4072 and ask for the publication Basic Meats 101.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.