Sunday, August 30, 2015


Brian Horn, a public relations expert, said that Consumer Reports tested 458 pounds of ground beef from across the nation and found more than 80% contained at least two types of dangerous bacteria.  “Interestingly, beef that was produced conventionally (on feedlots, with antibiotics) had twice as many superbugs as beef that was sustainably produced.”

The Consumer Reports’ investigation comes as food poisonings are striking an estimated 48 million people in the U.S. each year with beef being a top cause of outbreaks. Compounding the issue, Americans often prefer their beef on the rare side. The grinding process used to produce ground beef can distribute bacteria throughout the meat and if it’s not cooked properly through to the center, the potential for getting sick increases. 

Reports suggest that no matter what ground beef consumers buy, cooking it to 160 degrees Fahrenheit should kill harmful bacteria. “Meat should be stored properly before and after cooking since bacteria can multiply rapidly at temperatures above 40 degrees. If you’re reheating leftover burgers or a casserole with ground beef, get it to 165 degrees.”

You probably don’t realize it, but steaks and other cuts of beef that you buy in grocery stores or restaurants may have been run through a machine that punctures them with blades or needles to tenderize them. Unfortunately, the process also can drive bacteria like the deadly pathogen E. coli O157:H7 from the surface deep into the center of the meat, where they are harder to kill. That can increase the risk of illness for people who eat that beef rare or medium rare.

Restaurant owners are not going to reveal the goings on of their purveyors.   However, there is something you can do when purchasing your meat.  Go to a butcher.   Years ago, that is what we did.  Ottomanelli Brothers have a few places in Queens, one of which is located in Woodside at 61-05 Woodside Avenue. 

Frank insists that when you want ground meat that you see the piece you’re getting so you can just the freshness.  We looked at Prime Chuck Steaks, top grade only and nicely trimmed with just enough muscle and fat.  “Ground beef that you buy in supermarkets are packaged with oxygen, carbon monoxide and nitrogen.  The small amount of nitrogen makes the meat look fresh.  The government wants the stores to place a sign on the packaging saying that the color of the meat does not indicate the freshness. The meat can be there for 20-30 days and still look fresh.  If the meat turns black a few minutes after opening you can certainly tell how old it is.”

Perhaps you want a combination of chuck, brisket and short rib.  You’ll get to see each cut. Although you can get this combo via Fresh Direct, using Pat La Frieda, you don’t get to see the actual meat being used. Burgers are 6oz at $6.99 lb. and have the sealed packaging.  Ottomanelli  does have premade 8 oz burgers, freshly prepared each day, all costing $6.99 per pound.  Beef are a combo of cuts.  Turkey burgers (with spinach and feta cheese), chicken burgers and lamb burgers are pre-seasoned. and deserve an "OMG"/  A test of a good burger is to NOT pile it up with stuff.  Have a salad of arugula, cilantro, scallions and cucumber on the side. Drizzle with olive oil.  You should be able to taste the burger itself. 

I tried the ground prime chuck and it was amazing!  I loved the turkey, chicken and lamb burgers perfectly seasoned and with no bun. 

As for fast food burgers, Fuhgetaboutit!  Do you think that they can sell burgers for $1?  If they are “all beef”, you don’t know what part of the animal is actually is.  If not, say “hello” to soy fillers. 
Cost wise, the 8 oz burger will run about $3.50 or you can break it up in two 4-oz burgers at $1.75 for each. Buns are great for being able to pick up the burger in your hand, but not the most nutritious , unless you buy Dave’s Killer Bread. 

While you’re there buy a fresh mozzarella coming from the Arthur Avenue section of the Bronx.  The company starts from the milk, first making the curds.  If you are a lover of bacon (aren’t we all), there’s nothing like slices of fresh bacon without nitrates or nitrites. 

If you want the best meatloaf, get a combo of beef, veal, pork and your favorite recipe.  A can of Italian San Marzano tomatoes will make a hit.  Manga!

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