USDA Requiring Labels on Blade & Needle Tenderized Beef
The long-stalled new U.S. Department of Agriculture rule to require labeling mechanically-tenderized beef is back on the tracks.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published the rule with its proposed regulations on the agency’s website today and it will run soon on the Federal Register. After that, the pubic will have 60 days to comment.
“These products are different than intact products,” Rachel Edelstein, FSIS assistant administrator for policy and program development told a media conference call on the rule. A phase-in is planned with the full rule effective on Jan. 1, 2016.
FSIS will require that mechanically-tenderized beef products carry labels so customers will know there is a danger that pathogens such as E. coli could have been pushed into the meat beyond the exterior, running a risk if not adequately cooked internally. The labels proposed by FSIS would be required to display validated cooking instruction “so that consumers have the information they need to cook this product in a way that destroys illness-causing pathogens.”
The long expected rule was held up in the Executive Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for almost nine months. OMB is supposed to review such proposed rules in 90 days or less. The delay allowed Canada to begin requiring labeling on mechanically-tenderized beef months before the requirement will be in effect in the U.S.
“Ensuring that consumers have effective tools and information is important in helping them protect their families against foodborne illness,” said Elisabeth Hagen, USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety. “This proposed rule would enhance food safety by providing clear labeling of mechanically-tenderized beef products and outlying new cooking instructions so that consumers and restaurants can safely prepare these products.”
Since 2003, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have blamed six outbreaks on needle- or blade-tenderized beef products prepared in restaurants and private homes.
© Food Safety News
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