Fast-tracking mechanically tenderized beef rule

by Erica Shaffer
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Rep. Rosa DeLauro wants to 'fast-track' implementation of mechanically tenderized beef labeling rule.

WASHINGTON – US Rep. Rosa DeLauro said she “won a commitment” from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to take action on labeling mechanically tenderized beef products.

DeLauro asked Vilsack to suspend the Uniform Labeling Regulation to allow USDA to issue a rule for labeling mechanically tenderized beef products. Suspending Uniform Compliance Regulation would enable a MTB rule to be published and implemented in 2016 instead of 2018.

DeLauro sent a letter to Vilsack asking him to take this step, writing “Without a label, beef purchasers cannot ascertain from visual inspection whether their meat has been mechanically tenderized. Purchasers of products are entitled to full disclosure about the type of product they are buying.”

In comments made in 2013, the American Meat Institute (now called the North American Meat Institute) recommended that the USDA withdraw the labeling rule. AMI said at the time that risk assessments completed by the Food Safety and Inspection service showed little difference in the safety of MTB products compared to intact beef. The organization also argued that including the term “mechanically tenderized” on package of beef offered no food-safety benefit and could potentially confuse consumers.

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