Is corned beef brisket a St. Patrick’s Day ripoff?


Are you ready for St. Patrick’s Day this weekend?

You’ve got the shamrock decorations, the cabbage, the green beer and, oh wait, what about the corned beef?

If a traditional brisket is going to figure into your St. Paddy’s Day celebration, listen up, because we’ve got a consumer warning for you!

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Too much brine solution = a magically shrinking brisket reports that if you notice your corned beef has drastically shrunk this holiday when you pull it out of the pot, it’s not just the high fat content that’s behind the disappearing act.

A more likely culprit is there right before your eyes in the supermarket: The fine print on the corned beef package disclaiming that about a third of your brisket is salt water weight!

That’s right, look closely at the package and you’ll see something along the lines of “Contains up to a 35% solution.” It’s often followed by a list of food additives and/or preservatives that may include sodium phosphates, sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite, among other things.

corned beef brisket 35% solution
corned beef brisket point cut

So think about it like this: If you buy a four-pound brisket, that means it will boil down by 35%, or 1.4 pounds, when that brine solution cooks off — leaving you with just 2.6 pounds of corned beef!

Is pastured-raised, grass-fed or organic corned beef any better?

Sadly, no — not when it comes to this consumer warning about water weight.

Even a brand that advertises it’s made from beef raised without the use of antibiotics, no artificial hormones and no artificial ingredients can have a 30% brine solution.


So in this case, a four-pound brisket will cook down to just shy of three pounds — 2.8 pounds, to be exact.

corned beef brisket modified
Garret Valley

This is a recurring problem for grocery shoppers

Of course, this problem of paying for more than you’re getting is nothing new at the grocery store!

Manufacturers are always looking to do more with less — and that’s historically meant sneakily downsizing packages while charging you the same amount.

We’ve seen it with magically shrinking rolls of toilet paper; in the spice aisle with tins of black pepper that contain less product in the same size can; and with under-filled bags of potato chips, to name just a few product categories.

So consider this your friendly consumer warning before you load up on the corned beef and cabbage! You’re going to want to pay attention to amount of brine solution in your brisket this year…

RELATED: Wise gets sued for under filling its bags of potato chips

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