Although ground round can be called ground beef, ground beef cannot be called ground round unless it is made of all round beef cut. Ground round is seen as overall being a healthier choice because of the natural fat content in the round cuts of beef. Ground beef can be as healthy, but the packaging must designate that it is lean meat.
Cuts of Beef
The term “ground beef” can refer to any cut of beef that is ground up. It consists of 73 percent lean meat and 27 percent fat in most cases, if fat percent is not defined on the label. Although there are other percents that ground beef can be mixed to make a leaner ground beef. Ground round is made of only round cuts of meat, including, bottom round, eye of round, heel of round, knuckle and round tip.
Ground beef that is not defined as extra lean will lose more weight in cooking than ground round because the fat cooks off. Both are about the same in tenderness. Ground round is best used in soups, stews or spaghetti, not as a hamburger patty, because it may get a little dry from the lack of fat content. Adding ground round to dishes with other liquids helps to compensate for the lack of moisture in the fat.
Overall, ground round is lower in fat than most ground beef. Ground round has 90 percent lean meat and 20 percent fat, unless otherwise noted on the label. The exception is if you get extra lean ground beef that is 95 percent lean meat. This ground beef only includes 5 percent fat from any cut of beef, however typically sirloin and round are used to get this low fat percentage.
Ground beef can be derived from many different cows and many different cuts of meat. Ground beef is usually the trim and left over meat that cannot be used for anything else from any beef cut of meat. Because of the multiple sources, there is more opportunity for bad pieces of meat to be included in the same amount of ground round. Although all ground beef is inspected by the USDA in a finished ground state, it is suggested that ground beef be cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, while ground round can be considered a whole muscle piece of beef and can be eaten medium to medium rare, cooked to a minimum temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
References and ResourcesAsk The Meatman: The differences between ground beef, ground chuck, ground sirloin and ground round
USDA: Food Safety and Inspection Service