October 17, 2021

CFA Applauds USDA Mechanically Tenderized Meat Decision

Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is applauding the USDA’s proposal to label mechanically tenderized meat. Beef that is pierced with needles or blades to break up fibers and make the meat more tender is a health risk because bacteria on the surface of the meat is forced into the interior. Then when the meat is cooked rare or medium, the bacteria in the meat is still alive and can make you sick.

rare steakChristopher Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at CFA said, “this is good news for consumers. Without labeling, consumers would never know that the steak they are purchasing has been mechanically tenderized and may present a greater risk for foodborne illness.”

The process is used on less expensive cuts of meat. ┬áBecause most people cook their steaks rare or medium, the danger of contracting a foodborne illness increases with these manipulated products. The meat is also called “non-intact” because the muscle has been pierced.

Mechanically tenderized meat has been linked to foodborne illness outbreaks. In 2009, 21 people in 16 states were sickened with E. coli O157:H7 from these products. And last year, 18 people were sickened in Canada by mechanically tenderized beef produced by XL Foods.

You can comment on the proposed rule when it has been published on the Federal Register. Sign up for a notification at the USDA web site. The comment period will end 60 after the proposal is published.

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