December 30, 2014: The Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention calls for the Obama Administration to finalize rule on labeling of mechanically tenderized beef this year.
The Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention today calls for the Obama Administration to finalize, by the end of this year, a USDA regulation to label mechanically tenderized (MT) beef products. If the final rule is not published by December 31, 2014, the labeling rule will not be implemented until January 2018 due to the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s uniform compliance date requirements for labeling meat and poultry products. This means that consumers will remain at increased risk from these products for an additional two years.
Given that treated MT beef does not look different from non-treated product, labeling is the only way to identify the products as mechanically tenderized, while providing consumers with information about safe food handling and preparation.
Canada has already authorized a mandatory label for mechanically tenderized beef. The Canadians consider mechanical tenderization to be a food safety issue, not a food quality issue. In its evaluation of mechanical tenderization prior to the label’s approval, Canada found a five-fold increase in risk from E. coli O157:H7 in mechanically tenderized beef products when compared to intact cuts of beef.
CFI urges the Office of Management and Budget to clear the rule on the labeling of mechanically tenderized beef by today and asks USDA to expedite its publication. Labeling mechanically tenderized beef products will protect consumers from foodborne illness by identifying the products and by providing consumers with adequate information about how to safely prepare and handle this type of beef.
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