Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Labeling of Mechanically Tenderized Beef

On May 13, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a new labeling requirement for beef products that have been mechanically tenderized. 

Often called “blading” or “needling,” the practice of mechanical tenderization involves the insertion of a series of razor sharp knives or needles into a piece of beef in an effort to cut through tough connective tissue.   While this process creates a tender piece of meat, it also increases the possibility that food-borne pathogens like E. coli could be pressed deep into the center of the meat.   
Fortunately, food-borne pathogens such as E. coli can be killed through cooking beef above certain temperaturesUnfortunately, because the process of mechanical tenderization could push these pathogens into the center of a piece of meat, for safe consumption, it may be necessary to employ different cooking methods.  As a result, effective May 2016, USDA will require that all mechanically tenderized beef products carry labels that 1) state that the product is mechanically tenderized and 2) provide the proper instructions on how to safely  cook the product.
Written by M. Sean High - Staff Attorney
May 19, 2015

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