Wednesday, May 13, 2015

U.S. to label tenderized meat

The United States is catching up with Canada, finally implementing labelling requirements for mechanically-tenderized meats.

Canada implemented its labelling regulations last August.

It has taken the United States Department of Agriculture two years to get to the stage where it’s ready to implement it’s regulations under its Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The labelling is required for all tenderized fresh meats; cooked meats are exempt.

The labels, which will cost companies about $300 each to move through the bureaucratic process, must say when meat has been  “mechanically tenderized,” “blade tenderized” or “needle tenderized.” 

The labels must also have cooking instructions that advise consumers that the meat should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees (63 Celcius) followed by a three-minute rest time.

Barry Carpenter, chief of staff for the North American Meat Institute said “while we don’t believe these products need special labelling, we recognize that this rule is less burdensome than the earlier version and represents a compromise.

“We will work with the Food Safety and Inspection Service to implement the new labelling requirement in the most effective manner for both industry and consumers.”

About 11 percent, or 2.6 billion pounds, of beef products sold in the U.S. have been mechanically tenderized, according to government data.

Deputy Undersecretary Al Almanza said the new rule comes in response to six outbreaks of illnesses linked to bacterial contamination in mechanically tenderized meat since 2000.

"This common sense change will lead to safer meals and fewer foodborne illnesses.”

Canada acted after people were poisoned by E. coli 0157:H7 in mechanically-tenderized beef they bought from Costco in Edmonton. The supplier, XL Foods Inc. of Brooks, Alta., was shut down, forced into the biggest beef recall in Canadian history and sold the business under duress to JBS U.S.A.