Why you should never buy ground beef at Walmart

While Walmart may be your best one-stop shopping destination for those occasions when you've just got to pick up a cremation urn, a fursuit and, oh yeah, some groceries, there are still a few things you should really shop for elsewhere, and no, we're not talking about those embarrassing products you probably purchase online anyway. No, it's just that Walmart's grocery line, while extensive, has a few items that are best purchased at a grocery store that actually specializes in food. Ground beef is definitely one of the top items you should not pick up on your next Wally World run.

Walmart's ground beef is not always the best deal

"But why?" You may ask, frustrated about having to make yet another stop en route to your next furry funeral-slash-barbecue. One reason is its comparatively high price. When Kiplinger did a price check on various Walmart items as compared to other retailers, they found that Walmart's ground beef was selling for more than $1 per pound higher than that sold at discount grocer AldiThe Kitchn did their own price comparison, this time Walmart vs. Costco, and found out that while the price of Walmart's regular ground beef was only a few cents higher than that of Costco, Walmart's organic ground beef cost a whole $1 per pound more.

Walmart's ground beef doesn't get the best reviews

Not only is Walmart's ground beef not the cheapest, it can also tend to be lower quality than the fresh stuff you get elsewhere. All the meat sold at Walmart is what is known as case-ready, according to the The New York Times. This means that it is prepared and packaged at a meat packing plant rather than by an in-store butcher department. While case-ready meat may have a longer shelf life than meat prepared onsite, it owes this stability to treatments involving carbon dioxide and saline solution... not so tasty.

All of these reasons still not enough for you? Well, the consumer reviews on Walmart's website tend to be pretty negative, too. One purchaser of the five-pound roll of 80 percent lean beef found "a lot of gristle/rubbery pieces in the meat," as well as "a huge 5 ounce chunk of fat the size of my palm," although did give the beef a two-star rating because "my dog likes it okay." Another reviewer noted that "the meat had so much gristle in it that it was hard to choke down," while still another said it was "too fatty and cooks down too much," leading her to suspect it was filled with water — or, more likely, a saline solution, which, as mentioned, is used in the preparation of case-ready meat.

It's not only the 80 percent lean beef that draws not-so-rave reviews. The five-pound roll of 73 percent lean beef was said by one purchaser to contain "an intact artery" along with "an abnormal amount of white chunks." Ew, gross. But that isn't even the worst of it — another consumer reported finding "chopped (or more stringy) arteries and frequently hard pieces" (possibly bone fragments) on more than one occasion, but really objected to the roll that had "a piece of hay in it." Sounds like some major quality control issues.

Walmart is making some changes to its supply chain for ground beef, but it's going to take some time

Walmart announced in April 2019 that they were looking to create a dedicated end-to-end supply chain of Angus beef. While Scott Neal, senior vice president at Walmart U.S. Meat, announced in a press release that this will allow the retailer "to deliver consistent quality and value," this system is not yet in place and it may take them some time to work out all the kinks (and weird, lumpy, gristly bits). Jeremy Scott, an analyst at Mizuho FInancial Group, praised this "unique approach by Walmart to pursue a direct link from calf to plate" in an interview with the Reuters news agency, but warned that "it comes with plenty of risk and new variables." Amongst these new variables seem to be the fact that the supply chain will not actually be able to cover all of Walmart's beef needs, so some product will still need to be sourced from former (or not-so-former) supplier Tyson Foods.

Sounds like it might be a while yet before Walmart achieves its goal of farm-to-table transparency with its beef supply. In the meantime, we suggest you mooove your ground beef purchasing to a different grocer.