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Officials Tender Label For Mechanically Tenderized Beef

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Officials Tender Label For Mechanically Tenderized Beef

Canada Weighing Label Options

Warning labels for meat tenderized by machines could soon be required under Canadian regulations, according to Canadian Agriculture Minister Gery Ritz.

Ritz said both Canada and the United States were engaged in talks about the possible requirement for plants to label mechanically-tenderized beef after a recent E. coli scare forced a Canadian beef supplier to recall 1 million pounds of product, including steaks and roasts, as the result of a labeling issue.

Ritz: Process Questionable, Label Needed
Speaking with Canadian reporters, Ritz said a label is needed to alert customers to the process through which the beef was tenderized. He said during the tenderizing process, lesser cuts of steak are pressed with steel blades and needles to tenderize the meat, potentially driving E. coli into the center of the steak, which may not be properly cooked.

"When it's needled in or pressed into the meat and you cook it to medium-rare ... you don't kill it, you don't get to the temperature that you need," Ritz told the Canadian Broadcasting Company]. "There's talk about making sure that people understand that if you're buying this tenderized product ... it should be labeled to warn you to cook it beyond the temperature that should be required [for non-tenderized meat]."