Foods group, all of Costco’s fresh-cut meats must Costco prices and with Costco’s 100-percent-satis-
pass two Costco inspections. The first is conducted at faction guarantee.
a Costco regional quality-control distribution center “Members are raving about these USDA Prime
and the other at each warehouse’s meat department. steaks,” enthuses costco.com meat buyer Harjit
Grewall. “We have taken so many extra steps. For
T he b est c uts a t Costco example, our naturally aged Prime steaks are
Once the meat has been approved, it is the job of processed the day they are ordered, unlike some
Costco butchers in each warehouse to hand-trim and retailers who freeze their steaks indefinitely.”
package the beef to Costco’s high standards. “When Costco.com offers the top-selling USDA Prime
our butchers are done, all that is left is a beautiful cut tenderloins (six pieces, 8 ounces each, Item #950444);
with very little plate waste,” Doug reports. boneless Prime rib eyes (four pieces, 14 ounces each,
Another key stop on my research was with Item #950436); Prime New Yorks (four pieces, 14
Charlie Winters, Costco vice president and director ounces each, Item #950448); and a Prime tender-of meat and deli operations, who offered up some loin–rib eye combo (Item #101228).
“Costco’s 1- to 11/4-inch-thick, 14-ounce USDA T aking g round t o t he n ext l evel
Choice New York strip [also known as loin, strip loin While on the topic of meat and Costco, it’s
or Kansas City] is our number-one warehouse seller,” impossible to ignore ground beef. The focus here is
says Charlie, who played the lead role in developing on safety and quality, says Bob Huskey, Costco’s
Costco’s meat program. “It is well marbled and burst- ground-beef buyer.
ing with flavor. Many steak eaters covet the New York “Costco has some of the most stringent ground-for its leanness. It speaks of tradition.” beef safety protocols in the industry,” Bob notes. “We
The 14-ounce, boneless USDA Choice rib eye grind our own fresh ground beef in each warehouse
(also called Delmonico or Spencer), a fillet cut of ten- daily to ensure quality and wholesomeness.”
der prime rib, is Charlie’s favorite cut. Charlie Fresh ground beef is offered extra lean ( 12 per-describes this steak, highly coveted for its buttery, big cent fat or less) in bulk or as patties, and as USDA
beef flavor, as “a slice of prime rib in steak form.” Choice extra-lean ground round in many locations.
(Leftovers make unbelievable fajitas.) In the freezer section, look for Kirkland Sig-Costco’s 8-ounce, boneless USDA Choice tender- nature™ 91-percent-lean ground-beef chubs (makes
loin (filet mignon), cut from the heart of the tender- the king of ground-beef tacos), hefty one-quarter-loin, is the most consistently tender, lean and flavorful pound ground-beef patties (24- and 40-count), one-steak in the warehouse. (Also ideal for the crème de la third-pound ground sirloin and loin of beef patties
crème of beef fondue.) (85 percent lean) and precooked beef meatballs.
One last note: Costco offers three warehouse
Ready for Prime meat lineups for members: standardized cuts at the
During my research, one point was frequently counter plus individual or by-the-case uncut slabs.
repeated: Prime cuts are the best of the best. USDA Uncuts are preferred by value-conscious members
Certified Prime steaks, rarely found outside of high- who don’t mind doing their own cutting and trimming, as well as by hotels and restaurants.
All in all, it’s clear that Costco’s meat program is
truly a “signature” department, offering a tremendous commitment to quality control, a nice selection to meet all cooking needs and great low prices.
Of this I am sure: Costco has raised the “steaks”
again—and all in the name of flavor, quality, value
and member happiness. C
Steven Raichlen, of Barbecue
University on PBS, shares his
“Ten Commandments of Perfect Grilling,”
along with tips on how to grill the perfect
hamburger, New York or tenderloin, in
July’s Online Edition at costco.com under
Raichlen’s grilling cook-
books, The Barbecue! Bible
and How to Grill, are both are
available in warehouses and
on costco.com. And the Steven
Barbecue Rub and
Sauce Set is avail-
able at costco.com
at a special savings
THE HUBBY and I tested
costco.com’s Prime tenderloin against an upscale
national mail-order meat
Both arrived as
elegant black packaging
includes a reusable grilling-temperature sensor and
clearly labels the steaks as
USDA Prime. The competition’s package subtly
cherry red Primes were individually wrapped, 13/4 inches
thick, hand-trimmed and rich
with veins of marbling. The
were only 1 inch thick, with
some outer fat, little marbling and an uninviting
We grilled the steaks at
the same time and then
chowed down. The flavor of
Costco’s steaks was fantab-ulous and oh-so-tender. The
competition’s bland and
gristly steaks were saved
Last, I did a price check.
Not only was the price lower
at costco.com, I found that
when you consider the quality of the cut and shipping
costs, costco.com’s price
was an even more dramatic
savings. To me, that spells
Includes actual meat price and two-day shipping.
Prices based on a survey taken in May 2006.
Grade Cut Weight Total cost* price/pound*
Costco.com Prime Filet 48oz. $107.99 $30.00
Prime Strip 56oz. $107.99 $25.71
Nat’l online Prime Filet 48 oz. $207.93 $59.33
meat supplier Prime Strip 56 oz. $194.93 $47.14