USDA Proposal Would Require Labels for Mechanically Tenderized Meat

USDA Proposal Would Require Labels for Mechanically Tenderized Meat
Image: NCCC
June 10, 2013

The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has proposed a new rule that would require special labels on meat that has been mechanically tenderized.

Mechanical tenderization is a process by which small needles or blades are repeatedly inserted into a piece of meat to make it more tender.

These needles or blades pierce the surface of the product increasing the risk that any pathogens, such as E. coli or Salmonella, located on the surface of the product will be transferred to the meat's interior, where it is more difficult to kill during cooking.

Mechanical tenderization is most commonly used on less expensive cuts of meat.

In order to kill pathogens which may be located on the interior of these meat products, consumers must cook the meat differently than they would intact steaks and roasts that have not been mechanically tenderized.

Without labeling to identify mechanically tenderized meat and information on how to properly cook these products, consumers may be unknowingly at risk for foodborne illness.

Labeling of mechanically tenderized meat products would allow consumers to identify these products in the supermarket and handle them appropriately.