Pork Byproducts


     Ground Pork.

         At supermarket level at least, there really is no certain section or part of the hog that is used to produce ground pork.  As butchers cut and trim various pork items, they gradually accumulate a mixture of lean meat and fat, laying it to the side, which can later be run through the meatshop grinder for making ground pork meat.  Unlike the various ground beef products, ground pork usually does not include a designation on its packaging of lean to fat ratio, the amount of lean meat the product contains vs. the amount of fat contained.  As far as the reason for this, my good guess is that many shoppers would not be so attracted to the product if they knew exactly how much fat it contained.  Pork by nature is fattier than beef and many other species of consumer animals, and so this above average fat content in ground pork just kind of goes with the territory.  If there is a positive side to this, though you may take it as a caution, it is the universal meat world truth that fat means flavor!  I believe many shoppers perhaps rightly approach ground pork and pork products in general as an occasional alternative to beef, and indeed you can produce amazingly flavorful additons to many recipes using ground pork!  If you have rarely or never used ground pork to make a handful of plump meatballs for your sphagetti sauce, or to mix with beef and maybe lamb for a signature meatloaf, it is well worth doing on occasion!

*Important!  As with any pork products, I strongly recommend being sure during cooking and before eating,  that the meat reaches an internal temperature – at its thickest area – of at least 145 degrees fahrenheit and does not come below that temperature for a continuous period of at least 15 seconds.  Any juices visible in or around the meat should be clear and never reddish or pink!  These safeguards will ensure that any harmful parasites or bacteria that might have been in the meat have been destroyed.

meatshop101 Shoppers’ Tip:

Despite my mentioning above that butchers may produce ground pork at the supermarket from trimmings they accumulate when cutting various pork products, I will tap into my experience here to offer a word of caution:  in the interest of best health, it is probably wise to be wary of all ground meats in supermarket meat shops that produce ground pork on site, in their own grinder.  Why?  Because pork products tend to be more likely to contain certain potentially harmful pathogens, they are a considered to pose a risk of cross contamination if they come into contact with the meat of other species.  Typically, the supermarket meat shop has only one grinding machine for making ground meat products, and although supermarkets generally do a good job of training meat personnel in proper practices to avoid such possible contamination, many rogue workers or ones who are not consistently informed of this risk will break the rules!  They may grind beef trimmings in a grinding machine that was earlier used to grind pork trimmings.. with no cleaning and sanitizing in between!  If this happens, all ground beef products sold in that meatshop are suspect and potentially pose a risk of foodborne illness to the consumer.  To be fair, well trained and conscientious meatshop managers are very careful to avoid this practice by all meatshop personnel, but regrettably, the possibility remains.  All supermarkets nowadays have a policy that is intended to prevent the risk of cross contamination by this and other disallowed practices, but that doesn’t mean it never happens.  This is a big part of the reason many supermarket meatshops today carry only ground pork that was ground and packaged at a processing facility – not in the store – and never touches the meatshop grinder.  This is ideal.  As much as I hate to make this sweeping caution.. I recommend avoiding ground meat products in meatshops that produce their own ground pork on site, even if a meat department personnel assures you there is nothing to worry about.  Just ask your butcher if his meatshop grinds its own ground pork before mentioning why you want to know, and then you can be sure.

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