Video Series Discusses Meat Cost, Ground Beef Safety

Iowa State University professor says meat prices haven't really risen, despite earlier fears

Published on: Mar 22, 2013

The American Meat Institute, in conjunction with the American Meat Science Association this week launched the latest installment of their Meat MythCrusher video series, which seeks to bust some of the most common myths surrounding meat.

The new video explores the facts about meat affordability in the face of recent rising meat costs.  Severe drought and competition for corn from the ethanol industry have caused corn prices to hit record levels, causing meat and poultry prices to rise also because corn is a critical part of animal feed. 

This has led some to conclude that meat is getting more expensive.  But Iowa State University Professor Steve Lonergan, Ph.D., says when you consider historic data, meat prices have actually decreased.

Iowa State University professor says meat prices havent really risen, despite earlier fears
Iowa State University professor says meat prices haven't really risen, despite earlier fears

"If we use 1980 as reference, we spent 31% of our grocery budget on meat," explains Dr. Lonergan. "Today, that number is about 21%. In that same time period, pork is down about 38%, steak is down 25%, and ground beef is down 20%."

In order to further confront the myth, Dr. Lonergan compares the percentage of disposable income spent on food in other countries, finding that the United States only spends roughly 6%, whereas Europe spends 10%, and other developing countries spend up to 45%.

Additionally, Dr. Lonergan challenges the assumption that affordable food is causing America's obesity problem.

"Blaming cheap food prices for the obesity problem oversimplifies a complex and difficult matter," Lonergan says.

Mythcrushers also confront ground beef concerns

Earlier this month, also as part of the series, the Meat MythCrusher team examined the truth behind the process of making ground beef.

The video explains ground beef processing and speaks to the view held by some consumers that it’s safer to buy ground beef that is ground from a whole roast in store or at home than that which is ground from beef trimmings and packaged in a plant.

Robert Maddock, Ph.D., associate professor at North Dakota State, says it does not matter whether the ground beef comes from trimmings or whole muscle.

“When we break a beef carcass down, somewhere between 15-20% of the weight of that carcass is going to be trimmings,” explains Dr. Maddock. “If that wasn’t used in the production of ground beef, it would be lost and that’s a lot of meat.”

Additionally, Dr. Maddock provides viewers with a list of things to look for when buying ground beef, such as lean versus fat content and packaging dates.

The Meat Mythcrusher series includes more than 20 videos. Other video topics include myths surrounding sausage production, bacteria on meat, meat's environmental impact and more.

All of the videos and more are available at www.meatmythcrushers.com.