Why Is Ground Beef In The Tube Cheaper?

Ground beef in a tube is cheaper due to its cost-effective packaging method, offering 100% beef without additives, in various lean options, and longer shelf life compared to traditional packaging.

Packaged Ground Beef

Why is ground beef in the tube cheaper? Ground beef in the tube is more affordable due to its cost-effective packaging method. Read on to find out all the reasons behind this cost difference and addresses common questions about ground beef in tubes.

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What Is in a Ground Beef Tube?

Ground Beef

When consumers notice fresh, meat products that are significantly cheaper than other meat products, it is natural to assume that the cut of meat is low quality, mixed with other cheaper meats, or mixed with fillers.

Most ground beef (and ground turkey, ground chicken, etc) in tubes, also called ground beef chub, is 100% beef, although you can check the ingredients list to make sure they did not add breadcrumbs or a starch.

It may also have a label on the front indicating it has no fillers or additives. If there are fillers, it is typically a package of pre-made hamburger mixture rather than a ground beef tube.

What Is the Difference Between Ground Beef and Ground Beef Chub?

There is no difference between ground beef meat and ground beef chub. Similar to other packages of ground beef, the beef is ground up, tough cuts of beef.

This may be round, chuck, sirloin, or a mixture of the three. There are no additives such as water, extenders, or binders, although there may be preservatives depending on the brand.

Typically, ground beef tubes come in extra lean, lean, medium, or regular lean ground beef similar to other packaged ground beef.

Is Ground Beef in a Tube Any Good?

If you are looking at a cheaper option for meat, you may wonder if it is just as good tasting as regular ground beef.

Since ground beef in a tube is a similar cut or mixture of beef, as well as packaged and stored properly, you can expect it to be just as good and just as versatile as ground beef in a package. It’s how ground beef would be packaged if you got an entire side or whole cow.

If you are looking for the most flavorful, juicy, and tender ground beef, you should follow the same rule as regular ground beef: choose high fat content (this is how places like Five Guys have such juicy burgers). For the best flavor, choose medium or regular ground beef in a tube.

Ground Beef in a Tube vs Package

If ground beef in a tube and in packages are the exact same beef, then why is ground beef in the tube cheaper? There is one major difference between the two, the packaging:

  • Traditional Packaging: The butcher places freshly ground beef on a foam tray and covers it with polyethylene cling wrap. This kind of wrap allows oxygen to reach the meat, ensuring it maintains a bright red or bright pink coloring for a few days. Since consumers can see the beef and the attractive coloring, they usually purchase this type of ground beef. But it’s not the coloring that will make a good burger patty or beef jerky.
  • Modified-Atmosphere Packaging: They seal the meat tightly, vacuum out the air, and replace it with purified air. The attractive cherry coloring remains but this kind of packaging has a longer shelf life.
  • Vacuum-Sealed Packaging: Similar to modified-atmosphere packaging, they vacuum out the air but do not replace it. This darkens the color of the meat but extends the shelf-life significantly.
  • Ground Beef in a Tube: They place the ground beef in the packaging, tie it at each end, and vacuum seal the package. The meat may change color, but the consumer is not able to see the coloring, which usually turns dark purple.

Overall, the packaging difference affects the shelf life and the color of the meat. These are major differences between ground beef in a tube and the other types of packaged ground beef.

Why Is Meat in a Tube Cheaper?

Ground meat in a tube is cheaper than other packaged ground beef (or turkey) because of the inexpensive packaging material and method.

Unlike other packaging methods, chub packaging uses just one type of material and clips.

Additionally, the packaging method is very efficient. As Robert B. Miller writes, the machine “forces the ground beef into a cylindrical, heat-sealable film, seals the ends of the film with metal clips (applied two at a time) and simultaneously cuts the film between the clips.”

The process is precise and quick. In contrast, some packaging methods, such as the modified-atmosphere packaging, may require multiple steps.

Also, other packaging methods have a short shelf life, often lasting only a few days before the meat changes color or spoils.

Since grocery stores and meat markets have longer amounts of time to sell ground beef in a tube, this may contribute to the lower price as well. Naturally, supply and demand may also factor into the prices of products.

Consumers prefer selecting and purchasing ground beef with a bright cherry red color. With ground beef in the tube, the meat is not viewable. This may lead to less demand for ground beef, which contributes to the low price.

Why Is Frozen Ground Beef Cheaper?

You must move traditional packaged and modified-atmosphere packaged beef to airtight, sealed packages before freezing. Since air can reach the ground beef in either case, it can easily obtain freezer burn, like shrimp or ice cream, without this extra step.

However, a chub of ground beef can freeze as is. In fact, some providers sell it frozen because it transports easily frozen, they do not need to worry about spoilage, and they can keep it for a long shelf-life.

How Long Does Ground Beef in a Tube Last?

Bulk chub, reground in the store with an industrial meat grinder, lasts up to 20 days while case ready chub lasts up to 23 days as long as stored in a fridge. Additionally, unopened packages of ground beef chub can stay in the freezer for up to six months.

In comparison with other types of packaged ground beef, ground beef in a tube has one of the longest shelf lives. Modified-atmosphere packaging only has a shelf-life of 11 days, whereas traditionally packaged ground beef only lasts a few days.

You must transfer ground beef to sealed, air-tight packages in order to freeze them.

Why Buy Ground Beef in the Tube?

There are many reasons to buy ground beef in the tube over other types of packaged ground beef. A few of the most prominent advantages are:

  • Size Options: Much like traditionally packaged ground beef, you can select certain amounts of ground beef in the tube. Typically, they come in 1, 2-, 3-, 5-, or 10-pound amounts.
  • Economical: As meat prices rise, consumers are looking for cheaper options. Since you do not need to sacrifice value, you may find ground beef in the tube is a better option given the lower prices.
  • Space Saver: The conforming, cylindrical shape of packaged chub beef allows for easy storage in your fridge or freezer.
  • Helpful Packaging: Similar to some butter packaging, tubes of ground beef indicate portions on the outside. Since this is the case, you can easily cut the meat into sections.
  • Shelf Life: Saving money is easy with ground beef chub; you do not need to throw away wasted meat if you do not use it within a few days. It lasts up to 3 weeks in your fridge.
  • Freezer Ready: Stocking up on large amounts of ground beef is easy, as you can effortlessly store this packaged meat as soon as you get home. You do not need to waste time or energy repacking it.

Of course, you cannot forget that ground beef chub is the perfect addition to almost any meal. Whether you are making hamburgers, meatballs, meatloaf, spaghetti sauces, tacos, chili, or sloppy joes, it is an excellent choice.

In fact, it is unlikely anyone will be able to tell the difference between ground meat in a tube and regularly packaged ground beef once it has been cooked, browned and seasoned to perfection. It’ll just be your special cooking secret!

More FAQs about Beef in a Tube

Is ground beef in a tube lower quality?

Ground beef in a tube is not of lower quality; the main distinction lies in the packaging rather than the actual meat itself.

What is the lowest quality grade of beef?

The lowest quality grade of beef is typically found as Select, which is sold as a more affordable and leaner option in many stores. Consumer purchase of Select beef as a steak is common, while younger cattle (under 42 months of age) are often graded as Prime, Choice, Select, or Standard. On the other hand, older cattle are more likely to be graded as Commercial, Utility, Cutter, or Canner.

How long is a tube of ground beef good for in the fridge?

A tube of ground beef can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days and any leftovers should be consumed within 4 days. Ground beef can be kept in the freezer for up to 4 months. It is important to cook ground beef to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) using a food thermometer.

What are the four best quality grades of beef?

The four best quality grades of beef are Prime, AAA, AA, and A. Prime grade beef is the highest quality available, while AAA beef is slightly lower in marbling but still considered high-quality. AA beef is just a small step down from AAA, and A beef is also of good quality.

Why isn’t plant based meat cheaper?

The reason plant-based meat is not cheaper is because the animal agriculture industry has been benefiting from government subsidies and operating at a large scale for decades, allowing them to keep costs down. On the other hand, the plant-based sector is relatively new and has not yet reached the same level of economies of scale.

How are lower grades of beef used?

Lower grades of beef are typically used in the production of ground beef and processed products, rather than being sold directly to consumers. Standard and Commercial grades may be sold as ungraded or under store brand labels, while Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades are rarely, if ever, available for retail purchase.

Why is ground beef cheaper than chuck?

Ground beef is cheaper than chuck because it is made from various cuts of beef, while ground chuck is specifically made from the chuck roast, which is a more premium cut from the shoulder and neck area of the cow. The chuck roast has more marbling and flavor, making it a higher quality option compared to regular ground beef, hence the slightly higher cost.

Why does some ground beef come in a tube?

Some ground beef comes in a tube, which is known as a chub, because it is convenient for filling, packing, shipping, and storing.

Is ground beef in the tube the same as in the package?

Ground beef in the tube is the same as ground beef in the package. Grocery stores purchase the tubes, known as chubs, and then separate them into smaller packs. This is because the majority of individuals do not require 10 pounds of ground beef all at once.

How do you store ground beef in a tube?

To store ground beef in a tube, you should place it in the coldest section of your refrigerator, which is usually located towards the back in the main compartment and maintains a temperature of 40° or below. It is recommended to store the ground beef on the lowest shelf to prevent any juices from leaking onto other foods. Avoid storing it in the refrigerator door since temperatures there can fluctuate.

How do you defrost ground beef in a tube?

The best way to defrost ground beef in a tube is to place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Another effective method is to submerge the beef in a bath of cold water, making sure to change the water every 30 minutes.

Why is ground beef from the store brown in the middle?

Ground beef from the store is brown in the middle because the myoglobin protein, responsible for the red color on the outside of the meat, is not as exposed to oxygen as the meat on the outside. This results in the outside of the meat turning bright red while the inside remains brown.

How long is a tube of beef good?

A tube of beef is good for up to two days in the fridge from the date of purchase, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is advisable to either cook or freeze the ground beef by the second day.

Can you keep raw ground beef in the fridge for 4 days?

Raw ground beef can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, and it is recommended to consume any leftovers within this time frame. Additionally, ground beef can be safely stored in the freezer for a maximum of 4 months. It is important to ensure that ground beef reaches a minimum internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) when cooking, as measured with a food thermometer.

What happens if you cook spoiled ground beef?

If you cook spoiled ground beef, it can be hazardous to consume due to the potential presence of pathogenic bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses. Eating bad beef can lead to symptoms such as fever, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea, which may include bloody diarrhea.

How long can uncooked ground beef stay in the fridge?

Uncooked ground beef can be stored in the refrigerator for one to two days and in the freezer for up to four months. It is recommended to thaw the ground beef in the refrigerator to maintain its cold temperature before using it.

Why is ground beef red on the outside and brown in the middle?

Ground beef is red on the outside and brown in the middle because of a natural chemical reaction called oxidation. The meat reacts with the oxygen in the air we breathe, causing it to turn red. This color change is not due to any artificial dye. However, once the meat is no longer exposed to oxygen, such as when it is wrapped, it begins to turn brown. This is because there is no more oxygen available for the meat to react with. So, the color difference in ground beef is a result of the oxidation process.

What is a 10 lb chub of ground beef?

A 10 lb chub of ground beef is a long cylindrical tube of ground beef that is sold in bulk and typically weighs 10 pounds. It is a cost-effective option compared to buying individual one-pound packages of ground beef.

How long is a tube of ground beef good for?

A tube of ground beef is good for 1–2 days when stored in the refrigerator, and any leftovers should be consumed within 4 days. When freezing, ground beef can stay good for up to 4 months. Remember to cook it to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) using a food thermometer.

What does chub meat mean?

Chub meat refers to a food product that consists of ground meat packaged in the shape of a large, thick sausage. In the United States, it is common to find ground beef sold in the form of frozen patties or fresh, refrigerated chubs.

What is the best cut of beef for ground beef?

Chuck steak is the best cut for ground beef; it’s marbled throughout, providing a balanced flavor with good lean-to-fat ratio. Typically, chuck steak is the main cut used in burger blends and is often combined with one or two other cuts of meat.

Should I buy lean ground beef?

You should consider purchasing lean ground beef if you want to enjoy the nutritional advantages of beef while reducing your fat and cholesterol intake. Choosing lean ground beef doesn’t mean you’re eating low-fat food; it means you’re reducing your fat intake.

What is the fattiest ground beef?

Ground hamburger is the fattiest choice, and ground chuck, with 20% fat per serving, is ideal for burgers and meatballs seeking rich flavor without excessive grease.

Featured Image Credit – “09-jul-10” by sashafatcat is marked with CC BY 2.0.

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