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Safe Food Coalition urges labeling of mechanically tenderized beef

Members of the Safe Food Coalition today urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to approve a proposal to label mechanically tenderized beef products so that consumers know they must cook the products differently in order to avoid food safety problems.

In a letter to Vilsack, the coalition noted that mechanical tenderization is a process by which small needles or blades are repeatedly inserted into the beef.

Piercing the surface increas the risk that pathogens such as E. coli or salmonella located on the surface of the product can be transferred to the interior, the coalition said in a news release.

In order to kill pathogens which may be located inside the beef, consumers must cook these products differently than they would intact steaks and roasts, the coalition said. Without labeling to identify these products as mechanically tenderized and non-intact products, and information on how to properly cook them, consumers may be unknowingly at risk for foodborne illness, it said.