Organic Ground Beef Comparison
Price Per Pound
Country Of Origin
1. 25 lbs
USA, Canada, Australia
Comparison prices made on February 28, 2012 across the United States. Prices may vary due to shipping and market.
All organic beef sold in the U.S., whether
produced domestically or imported, must
meet the same strict USDA National Organic
Program (NOP) guidelines, including USDA
on-site farm inspections.
Organic beef processing
The USDA’s NOP also requires organic
beef to be processed in an organically certified
facility where there is no commingling of
organic and non-organic raw materials and
organically approved equipment cleaners and
sanitizers are used.
In a move that speaks to long-term commitment, Costco recently added a new multi-million-dollar processing line specifically
designated for organic beef at Costco’s com-pany-owned ground beef production facility
in Tracy, California (referred to as “Tracy”).
“Tracy is the best way to assure the highest
levels of control, quality assurance and food
safety when it comes to processing many of our
Kirkland Signature beef items,” Bob reports.
He adds, “The new organic line is an
added step in this process, guaranteeing com-
plete segregation between conventional and
organic ground beef.”
Bob suggests a visit to Tracy, and I jump
at the chance. Meat and Service Deli assis-
tant vice president Doug Holbrook accom-
panies us. Tracy plant manager Kevin Smith
is our guide.
At Tracy, I am impressed at every turn.
The 200,000-square-foot facility is neat as a
pin, which is astonishing when you consider
that about 150 million pounds of Kirkland
Signature hot dogs, meatballs and conventional and organic ground beef items will be
produced within its walls this year.
We move on to the new organic line and I
watch as 5,000 pounds of organic beef are efficiently processed … per hour.
COSTCO’S FRESH, 85 percent lean,
Kirkland Signature Organic Ground
Beef (Item #598881; available in
the warehouse meat case) is burst-ing with clean, pure food goodness. The 4-pound tri-pack is
currently $4.50 per pound.
Costco.com also sells USDA-certified grass-fed organic beef,
chicken and pork.
THE USDA HAS a strict set of
National Organic Program (NOP)
guidelines required for organic
Cattle must be born and raised
in certified-organic pastures that
have had no chemical fertilizers,
pesticides and herbicides for at
least three years prior to organic
Along with access to open
pastures, organic livestock must
consume a 100 percent organic
diet consisting of grasses and
sometimes grains that are also
grown in precise accordance with
organic farming guidelines. Even
straw or hay used as bedding must
be certified organic.
Organic cattle are never administered antibiotics or growth
Organic beef producers must
maintain exacting standards and
impeccable record keeping with
complete animal traceability from
farm to point of sale.
third-party auditors certify that all
guidelines are followed by conduct-ing on-site inspections of farms,
verifying all reports and periodically testing soil and water.—PV
the news as “pink slime”—is added to any
ground beef produced at Tracy and am told
that it is not and has never been.
We spend a long time in the Tracy quality assurance lab, where I learn that Costco’s
testing standards are among the highest in
Doug notes, “Just because beef is certified
organic does not mean it’s free from poten-
tially harmful bacteria and pathogens. This is
why all of our suppliers, both organic and con-
ventional, test for E. coli 0157:H7 before their
product is shipped to Tracy.”
Bob adds, “To verify the quality of the
beef, we also run our own microbial tests on
all inbound raw materials before they are
approved for processing. We are very critical
of the meat that is allowed into this facility.”
Samples are also pulled from each pro-
cessing line at Tracy every 15 minutes for test-
ing, and even though it’s not an industry
requirement, all finished goods are again
tested for a number of different bacteria and
pathogens, including E. coli 0157:H7.
Since it’s been all over the news I ask if the
lean, finely textured beef—labeled by many in
Food safety is foremost
On the flight back, Bob shares, “It costs us
more money for all this added quality assur-
ance. Additionally, there are companies that
won’t sell to us as they feel our testing require-
ments are too strict. But we won’t budge, as
this is absolutely the right thing to do.”
Wanting to confirm the strictness of
Costco’s protocols, I call one of Costco’s
organic beef suppliers.
When asked about Costco quality stan-
dards, the veteran supplier gives a low
chuckle (or is it a growl?) before replying,
“I’ve been in the beef industry a long time
and shipped beef to the European Union as
well as all over the U.S. and Canada. I have
never come across a stricter food safety pro-
tocol than Costco’s in my entire flipping life.
And please quote me verbatim.”
Stricter safety controls? Higher-quality
meat? Costco value? I have no beef with that. C
MAY 2012 ;e Costco Connection