January 16, 2018

FSIS Extends Comment Period for Labeling Mechanically Tenderized Beef

Sirloin SteakLast Friday, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service extended the comment period for its proposed rule requiring labeling for mechanically tenderized beef. Those products are processed with needles or fine blades to break up the meat fibers and make the steak more tender. The rule also applies to beef products that are injected with a marinade. But those processes push pathogenic bacteria on the surface of the beef into the center. Then when the meat is cooked less than well-done, those bacteria are not destroyed and people can get sick.

The rule was proposed on June 10, 2013, and the comment period has been extended to October 3, 2013. The original comment deadline was in August 2013.  Apparently, two trade associations asked FSIS to extend the rule an additional 120 days, but the government only agreed to a 60 day extension.

The notice states that “FSIS is proposing to require that labels of raw and partially cooked needle- or blade-tenderized beef products destined for household consumers, hotels, restaurants, or similar institutions include validated cooking instructions that inform consumers that thes products need to be cooked to a specified minimum temperature, and whether they need to be held at that minimum temperature for a specified time before consumption.” FSIS has also announced that it posted guidance for developing validated cooking instructions.

You can comment on the proposed rule yourself. And you can learn more about mechanically tenderized beef and outbreaks associated with those products. Those products have caused five E. coli outbreaks in the U.S. between 2003 and 2009, and an outbreak in Canada last year.

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