Nutrition

INDIVIDUAL PRODUCT INFORMATION

Fact Sheet: A (New) Grass Fed Report Card (overview)

Fact Sheet: Top Sirloin Steak
F
act Sheet: Ribeye Steak
F
act Sheet: Strip Loin (NY Strip) Steak
Fact Sheet: Chuck Roast

Fact Sheet: Top Round Roast
Fact Sheet: Sirloin/Round Tip (Peeled Knuckle) Roast
F
act Sheet: 75% Lean/25% Fat Ground Beef
F
act Sheet: 80% Lean/20% Fat Ground Beef

Fact Sheet: 85% Lean/15% Fat Ground Beef
Fact Sheet: 92% Lean/8% Fat Ground Beef

Beef Jerky - All Flavors
(Original, Sweet & Spicy, Barbeque, Teriyaki, Hot & Spicy)

 
Beef Sticks - All Flavors (Original, Smokey Sweet, Jalapeno)
 
 
Beef Summer Sausage - Original Flavor
 

Beef Hot Dog 
Beef Bratwurst
Beef Polish Sausage
Beef Brisket with Barbecue Sauce Beef 
Beef Bacon

Beef Ring Bologna


Where Does the Data Come From? 

Overview of Analysis

In 2013, in partnership with the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, Grass Run Farms and its collaborating cattle producers coordinated laboratory analysis of grass-fed beef primals to provide more authentic information to the retail consumer and put actual numbers to the discussion of grass-fed beef's nutritional variation from conventional grain-finished beef. 

Sampling Methods

Twelve cuts of beef were sampled across three harvest dates, representing three distinct producers of 100% grass-fed beef. For each cut, nine samples were collected and compared - three from each date. Results were then averaged per cut to produce a composite for comparison with published USDA data for beef nutritional content (source: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 26 | USDA Agricultural Research Service).

Samples were taken by USDA-inspected processor Unger Meats, Vadnais Heights, Minn., and analyzed by the laboratories of Iowa State University Department of Animal Science. Sampling specifications were developed in collaboration with Iowa State University staff, and testing was verified accordingly.

Why do the testing?

Effective January 1, 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires vendors of raw beef muscle meats to make nutritional labeling available to the consumer at the point of sale, either as a poster displayed near the meat case in your grocery store, or on the package label.

Previously, such labeling was required only on multi-ingredient meat products such as hot dogs, or products claiming a certain meat-to-fat ratio, such as ground beef.
 
The problem is that the only nutrition data widely available for this type of labeling comes from the USDA's National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference and represents a wide-ranging compilation of conventional beef analysis, with a few data points for grass-fed beef mixed in. Results have been added over time, as they are produced by large academic studies, often introducing confusion over the exact specifications and method by which cuts of meat are sampled.
 
This poses two critical issues for producers of grass-fed beef: 
  1. 1) The available data doesn't actually represent grass-fed beef production, widely understood to affect the fatty acid profile of livestock, thereby misleading the consumer.
     
  2. 2) The scattershot nature of the database and lack of grass-fed beef data points doesn't accurately represent the evolution of grass-fed beef production, which has expanded to meet consumer demand and now produces much more consistently finished product with intermuscular fat and a mature fatty acid profile.

Conclusions

Grass-fed beef really does have as competitive as or a better nutritional profile than conventional beef! See these individual fact sheets we produced to show our results, cut by cut:

Fact Sheet: A (New) Grass Fed Report Card (overview)
F
act Sheet: Nutritional Analysis of Grass Run Farms Top Sirloin Steak
F
act Sheet: Nutritional Analysis of Grass Run Farms Ribeye Steak
F
act Sheet: Nutritional Analysis of Grass Run Farms Strip Loin (NY Strip) Steak
Fact Sheet: Nutritional Analysis of Grass Run Farms Chuck Roast

Fact Sheet: Nutritional Analysis of Grass Run Farms Top Round Roast
Fact Sheet: Nutritional Analysis of Grass Run Farms Sirloin/Round Tip (Peeled Knuckle) Roast
F
act Sheet: Nutritional Analysis of Grass Run Farms 75% Lean/25% Fat Ground Beef
F
act Sheet: Nutritional Analysis of Grass Run Farms 80% Lean/20% Fat Ground Beef

Fact Sheet: Nutritional Analysis of Grass Run Farms 85% Lean/15% Fat Ground Beef
Fact Sheet: Nutritional Analysis of Grass Run Farms 92% Lean/8% Fat Ground Beef

That said, meat sampling and analysis are complicated and expensive. The analyses completed in this project represent but a handful of data points and were not sampled widely enough for direct inclusion in the USDA database. We also ran into study design variables that may have resulted in our meats being tested using different procedures than the USDA's.

Cholesterol in our study, for example, was measured in a composite of whole muscle tissue -- including any cell membranes in connective tissue. This resulted in our cholesterol data appearing consistently higher than USDA values, which do not include the amount of cholesterol contained in connective tissue.

Another issue revealed in this study pertains to standardized rounding procedures, as applied to nutritional content. In order to standardize the information that appears in each Nutrition Facts panel we used these guidelines for the rounding of the actual figures. While the values rounded up or down are individually small, the process made it obvious that all Nutrition Facts panels represent an approximation, rather than exact values, which may differ by up to .5mg/serving of saturated fat, for example -- or a difference of 3%, based on a 2000-calorie diet.

In the end, however, we are confident that this snapshot of grass-fed beef production and its effect on the nutritional content of the resulting meat is a useful barometer for grass-fed beef producers, as well as consumers who seek accountability in the sourcing of their food. 

We predict that as domestic and imported grass-fed beef expands in the marketplace, consumer interest in current nutritional information will also increase, and we recommend that future studies in this area limit sampling specifications to fewer cuts of meat across a wider sampling base so that relevant data gets into national resources at regular intervals. We recommend basing sampling protocol on this FDA Nutrition Labeling Manual.