Where’s the Beef?

September 28th, 2021

I am easily swayed by featured food items at Costco and a quick trip to fill up on gas, milk and paper towels can easily balloon into a cartful of random assorted items, including bulk-sized pickles, a family pack of frozen dumplings, and 4 pounds of strawberries. As I was browsing through the prepared food aisle on a recent trip, this package of Kevin’s Mongolian-Style Beef caught my eye. All the important buzzy words were there:

  • Natural ✅
  • Ready in 5-min ✅
  • Made with grass-fed beef ✅
  • Spicy ✅
  • Paleo 🤷🏻‍♀️

Working at TINA.org I know that what you see in an ad or on a box doesn’t always accurately depict reality (example 1 and example 2). But nothing prepared me for what awaited me when I tore open the packaging.

Seriously? I had to double check the packaging. Had I mistakenly brought dog food? Or lab-grown meat of some kind? What pray tell was this mystery meat hidden behind the beautiful glossy image of sizzling, sesame-seed-flecked Mongolian beef on the package?

The instructions advised me to gently massage the bag in order to break up the meat pieces, which turned out to be easier said than done. Despite my best efforts, I eventually took out a knife in order to fashion the congealed meat blob into something resembling strips.

It was still a far cry from what was shown on the package. At this point, my husband advised me to throw it out and chalk it up to a lesson learned. And my children completely refused to eat it, even before I cooked it. But I was determined to see this through. And now that I had actually touched it, I could at least vouch for the fact that it felt like meat. As per the instructions, I fried the contents in a pan. As I browned the pieces, I had to admit that it was looking a bit more like actual beef strips.

And drowning the pan in the sauce package **almost** allowed me to forget what it first looked like.

In the end, despite my misgivings, I tried it. And it was, in fact, delicious (#NotAnAd). It turned out the meat was cooked sous vide, meaning it was precooked in a water bath in a vacuum sealed bag, a fact that was indeed disclosed on the packaging but not a term I was familiar enough with to tailor my expectations. My husband and I enjoyed the dish (the kids still refused to touch it) though I still have beef with the sharp contrast between what was on the package and what was in the package!

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About the Author

Shana does a little bit of everything at TINA.org. She is passionate about consumer advocacy having personally observed how immigrant families are often the targets of many scams and schemes.



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