Walmart makes buying many products for your family an easy, convenient, and inexpensive experience, as Supercenters, carry everything from clothes to notebooks to steak.
But you might be wondering: Is Walmart meat good? Is it worth the discounted price on ground beef or rotisserie chicken? Here is what you need to know.
Is Walmart Meat Good?
In a survey conducted by Consumer Reports in 2017, Walmart received the most complaints out of all the grocery stores, with shoppers specifically citing poor meat selection. Since then, however, Walmart has made strenuous efforts to improve the quality of some meat products and the transparency of their sourcing.
To learn more about why Walmart meat isn’t considered good, what meat is considered best out of their offerings, and where else you can get good-quality meat for a low price, see below!
Why Isn’t Walmart Meat Considered Good?
According to the website 12tomatoes.com, Walmart shoppers “have rated the ground beef they purchased…as gristly, tough to eat and even containing chunks of organs.”
One commenter on the website Quora.com had a lot of gripes as well.
Josh Schildroth, a meat manager, began his comment, a response to “Does Walmart sell fresh meat?” saying, “No, no, no, no, no. Never.”
He cited their lack of on-site butchers and suggested that Walmart sells low-quality, select–grade meat with bad trim specifications and cut angles.
He also attested that the meat is cut “week ago” and then shipped out in high barrier bags called mother bags.
This contrasts how truly fresh meat would be transported – locally, within days (if not hours) of slaughtering, then broken down by a skilled on-site butcher.
Over on the giant message board Reddit, one user asked what foods they should avoid buying at Walmart.
Overwhelmingly, the respondents brought up Walmart’s meat. One said, “It tastes SO bad that it is absolutely not worth the price difference.”
Another chimed in, “OMG their steak is terrible…Disgusting.”
Still another said, “I once bought meat there, it was disgusting.”
Unfortunately, while all of these stories are anecdotal, enough people have had bad experiences with Walmart’s meat that it has become part of their brand recognition.
Additionally, try Googling anything about Walmart’s meat.
You don’t get a lot of reassurance about the quality when you see all the hits about FDA food recalls involving their meat.
The includes one major, 40,000-lb. ground beef recall in June 2020, where E.coli possibly tainted the meat.
What Walmart Meat Is Considered Good?
Not all Walmart meat is considered bad quality, though.
Walmart carries a few meat and meat-alternative products that have received recommendations from various websites.
- Meat Alternatives – Better known as the plant-based Impossible brand, Impossible “meat” can be used anywhere ground beef is.
With Walmart’s unfortunate reputation for poor-quality ground beef, this might not be a bad swap to make once in a while.
The site eatthis.com says that Impossible meat tastes “surprisingly like the real thing” and Walmart carries it for a good price.
- Frozen Chicken – The writer at Heathline.com recommends Walmart’s frozen, pre-grilled chicken breasts as both healthy and tasty.
The writer also cites the convenience and versatility of the frozen chicken.
- Frozen Beef – Likewise, the author at Heathline.com also thinks Walmart’s frozen lean beef,in the form of ground beef, burgers and sirloin strips are worth a buy.
- Wagyu – While Walmart’s Wagyu beef isn’t real Wagyu (that comes from Japan), a writer at Steakbuff.com called it “pretty good quality.”
Has Walmart Beef Improved?
In 2020 Walmart launched its very first meatpacking plant in the Southeast.
This was in response to calls for greater transparency in their meat supply chain, among other reasons.
Based in Thomasville, Georgia (which is closer to Florida’s Tallahassee, than any other major Georgian city), the 200,000 square foot plant supplies about 500 Southern Walmarts.
Still, no cattle farm is nearby, as the animals are slaughtered in Kansas and then sent onto Georgia for final processing.
However, Walmart having that greater hand in their supply chain and their partnership with McClaren Farms is considered a move toward “high-quality product.”
Is Walmart beef from that new packaging plant better than the reputation that has preceded Walmart for some time?
Only time will tell, as the new product begins making its way into homes and southerners start talking.
Should You Avoid Walmart’s Chicken?
Mashed.com has a lot to say about Walmart’s meat department, and they took on the retail giant’s chicken selection in a piece from 2020.
Aside from the quality, a lawsuit in 2015 claimed that Walmart over-charged for poultry items that had been advertised at a lower price.
Rather than take the matter to court, Walmart ended up settling.
It appears that while Walmart claims to offer the lowest prices on their products, sometimes their chicken is more expensive than the pricier grocery stores.
This fact, coupled with their less-than-savory meat quality reputation, means that buying chicken at Walmart isn’t the deal they’d have you believe it to be.
Another reason you might want to avoid their chicken involves the uber-convenient rotisserie chickens you find in the prepared foods section.
Out of the seven grocery store rotisserie chickens ranked by Eat This, Not That, Walmart came in dead last.
I personally have had many Walmart rotisserie chickens and would have to concur. While they were flavorful (especially the skin) the meat was slim pickings.
Is it Safe To Buy Meat From Walmart?
It is generally safe to buy meat from Walmart, but be a proactive shopper.
Don’t just start throwing packages into your cart; take the time to look at each package individually.
Start with the label – is it near its expiration? If so, can you dig further back or deeper and find a newer product?
Look at the meat itself. Does it look slimy? Does it look unduly discolored? Some greying or discoloration isn’t necessarily a sign that the meat is bad – it’s just oxidized.
But if it looks green or black, put it back (or better yet, hand it over to an employee and have them take it out of rotation).
Try sniffing the product, too. While they’re sealed fairly well, a really bad piece of meat is going to stink through the shrink wrap.
Finally, don’t ignore FDA product recalls. If you see one for meat, follow up and go check out what products are affected.
Walmart’s meat department has been historically disappointing, with poor cuts of beef and higher-than-you’d-expect prices.
But the enormous retail chain has made recent strides to correct that perception, with their new beef processing plant in Georgia.
I think we’ll continue to see efforts like this from Walmart in the coming years, and perhaps with it, public opinion on their meat department will improve.