New beef labeling law looms in Canada

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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OTTAWA, Ontario – Registered beef processors in Canada must label mechanically tenderized beef starting Aug. 21.

Canada's federal government developed the labeling law following the largest beef recall in Canada's history. XL Foods Inc., Brooks, Alberta, was linked to beef contaminated with E. coli that sickened 18 people. A subsequent recall included 1,800 beef products. XL Foods accounted for 35 percent of Canada’s beef-processing capacity. Sáo Paulo, Brazil-based JBS SA bought out XL Foods in 2012.

Food-safety authorities identified mechanically tenderized beef as part of the problem. Beef steaks sold at a Costco Wholesale store in Edmonton, Alberta, were linked to several confirmed E. coli infections. However, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was unable to establish if the steaks were contaminated before or after arriving at the store.

In May 2013, food-safety authorities announced that registered plants producing mechanically tenderized beef must label products as tenderized and provide cooking instructions to protect Canadian consumers against foodborne illness. The requirement is part of a larger federal initiative called Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan. Voluntary labeling practices had been established in 2012.

The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service proposed labeling requirements that included emphasizing validated cooking methods, minimum internal temperatures and resting time for mechanically tenderized beef. The proposed requirements also included labeling mechanically tenderized beef products. In October 2013, the American Meat Institute recommended the agency withdraw the proposed labeling rule.
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