USDA Pressured By Congresswoman To Label Mechanically Tenderized Beef

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USDA Pressured By Congresswoman To Label Mechanically Tenderized Beef

As an industry leader in marking and coding systems, Markem-Imaje realizes the importance of proper labeling in the food industry. Recently, longtime hawk on food safety issues Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) began putting pressure on the USDA regarding the labeling of beef products that are mechanically tenderized. While the FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that steaks that are "intact" be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, no labeling is currently being used on mechanically tenderized beef products, recommending that they be cooked to 160 degrees, just as ground beef is. Why do these beef products need further labeling? Bacteria can be introduced in to the center of meats during the mechanical tenderization process. Most consumers wouldn't give this a second thought, which could put them at risk of food poisoning. The process of tenderizing these steaks involves needles or blades. Approximately 50 million of these steaks are sold every month in the U.S., however they are not labeled in regards to internal cooking temperature. Cooking beef products to an internal temperature of 160 degrees is recommended to kill bacteria such as Salmonella that can sometimes develop in these meats. The subject was brought up during an appropriations hearing in March by the congresswoman, who said that it is particularly important that the labeling issue be addressed now, as grilling season fast approaches. An outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in December of 2009 was linked to steaks that had been mechanically tenderized. DeLauro believes that the outbreak may have been prevented if the steaks had been properly labeled. Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen recently stated that the labeling issue is being considered by the FSIS, and that a final ruling should be expected by summer. Markem-Imaje understands the importance of clear, concise labeling in protecting consumers from possible health risks. Thermal transfer printing, small character industrial inkjet printing, laser printing, print and apply labeling and traceability software are just a few examples of the printing solutions we offer to those in the production/manufacturing industries. Looking for labeling solutions for your food products? Give us a call at 1.866.263.4644 to discuss your options. Have a question? Shoot it over to us on Facebook or Twitter!

January 10, 2014
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