Mechanically Tenderized Beef Gets Label In 2016


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Starting next year, partially cooked beef products must say on their label if they’ve been mechanically tenderized.

Under a new rule, raw or partially cooked beef products must bear labels that say if they’ve been tenderized by mechanically by blade or needle.

The labels must also give cooking instructions — including the minimum internal temperatures (at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit internal) and any hold times — so that consumers know how to safely prepare them.
The problem: the blades or needles can transfer pathogens from the surface of the meat into the center. If it’s then not cooked thoroughly enough, the pathogens can make the buyer sick. You just can’t tell just by looking at it or the package.

The best way to gauge this is with a meat thermometer available from a number of sources, including:

Consumer reports recommends several:

Besides getting a safe temperature, says Wired Magazine, “With the mainstream adoption of sous vide and other ultra-precise cooking methods, the kitchen thermometer has become a necessity of the modern chef. (

In fact, the need to know the temperature of what we’re cooking, cooling, or eating has been a constant since the days of Louis Pasteur, but the era of the leave-in meat thermometer and the pop-up turkey button are well behind us. Now is the era of the instant-read thermometer, an electronic device that can provide the temperature in mere seconds instead of the minutes a classic meat thermometer requires. That’s not a trivial improvement—delicate dishes can go from raw to well done in the time it takes an old-school probe to stabilize. Similarly, less time spent with the over door open as you wait for your readout means less escaping heat and a more stable cooking environment.”

Since 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received reports of six outbreaks attributable to needle or blade tenderized beef products in restaurants and consumers’ homes. It predicts that the new rule could prevent hundreds of illnesses every year.


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