There are still opportunities in the realm of lean beef, industry experts say, but they will be in making the product available, not necessarily producing it.
"We're now to the point we just can't get any leaner," according to Jeff Savell of Texas A&M University. "Even if the only grade eaten by consumers was Select, it wouldn't change fat intake (by Americans) appreciably."
The checkoff's Shalene McNeill agrees. "Because today's beef is so closely trimmed, there's not much more progress we can make toward leaner product," she says. "But the availability of lean beef cuts is extremely important in helping consumers feel better about beef."
More than 38 cuts, when cooked and visible fat trimmed, have been shown to fit the USDA definition of lean, which is less than 10 grams of total fat, less than or equal to 4.5 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol/3.5 oz-serving. This compares to seven cuts just 20 years ago.
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