WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is expected to announce proposed legislation that would require mechanically tenderized meat be labeled as such and include cooking instructions. The announcement, scheduled for June 6 at 1 p.m. EST, will include discussion of the proposed policy “designed to improve food safety and public health outcomes.”
Mechanically tenderizing meat has been widely used in the meat processing industry for many years, but has recently come under scrutiny after several product recalls and many foodborne illnesses were linked to the technology.
In a USA Today report published June 6, USDA Undersecretary Elisabeth Hagen, said: “When people buy ground beef, they know they're getting ground product. But when people order this product, they don't know. And certainly, when people are ordering in a restaurant, they don't know they're ordering this product.”
She added, "A lot of people want a medium-rare steak. But if folks knew that the steak they're buying might not be what they think it is, and might be in a higher risk category," they might want it well done.
This past month, food safety officials in Canada announced that registered plants there that produce mechanically tenderized beef will be required to label products as tenderized and provide cooking instructions. The requirement is part of a larger federal initiative called Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan.