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The One Thing You Need To Watch Out For When Buying Beef at Costco

A user on Reddit alerted the masses about a controversial method used by Costco's butcher department.

Costco is the place to go for all of the deals, but if you like your steak medium-rare, then you may want to consider buying raw cuts of beef elsewhere. Or at the very least, you'll want to invest in a meat thermometer.

According to Reddit user @aktionmancer, some of the beef options at the bulk grocery store are tenderized mechanically. The user posted a picture of a boneless, ribeye grilling steak they saw in-store to the forum, with the label clearly stating "Mechanically tenderized cook to a minimum internal temp of 63C/145F. Turn steak over at least twice during cooking."

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While the user has a valid reason for concern, it's important to note that Costco is in fact following guidelines enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture's Food and Safety and Inspection Service.

The USDA made it mandatory for meat processors to disclose this common practice back in May of 2016. The department also required that processors provide instructions on how customers can safely handle and cook the meat so that they reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

ribeye steak dinner with potatoes on wood board

Now, you're probably wondering, "what is mechanical tenderization?" As Christopher Bernstein, Director of Food Safety Education within the Food Safety and Inspection Service sector at the USDA explained on the website in 2017, it's a method that's used to help increase the meat's tenderness.

"To increase tenderness, some cuts of beef are tenderized mechanically by piercing them with needles or small blades in order to break up tissue. This process takes place before the beef is packaged but can also occur at the grocery store's butcher counter, at a restaurant, or in the home," he wrote.

Here's where the concern lies. The blades or needles can introduce pathogens that are lying on the outside of the beef to the inside. This is why it becomes imperative for meat processors to include proper cooking instructions on the label, as the heat will likely kill any trace of bacteria. 

So this isn't to say you shouldn't buy raw meat from Costco, but it's a reminder to follow the label's instructions and cook to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. As an added precaution, be sure to let the meat rest for three minutes after removing it from the heat source and before cutting into it.

For more tips, be sure to read The Unhealthiest Costco Food Court Orders, Say Dietitians. Then, don't forget to sign up for our newsletter.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the former news editor of Eat This, Not That! Read more about Cheyenne