USDA to Require Labels for Mechanically Tenderized Beef

After years of food-safety concerns and at least five outbreaks of illness, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing that mechanically tenderized meat – 26% of all the beef sold in the USA – be labeled as such and that labels include cooking instructions. Tenderizing meat mechanically involves forcing hundreds of tiny blades or needles through it to break up muscle fibers and make it more tender.

Unfortunately, it can also drive pathogens that might be on the surface, such as E. coli O157:H7, deep into the cut’s interior, where cooking may not kill them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been five E. coli outbreaks attributed to mechanically tenderized beef, sickening 174 people. [USA Today]

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