Tenderizing beef makes the meat easier to chew. But is it safe?
Before you buy mechanically tenderized meat in the supermarket, or use hand pounders and home tenderizer machines on your meat, there’s something you should know.
The tenderizing process actually drives surface contaminants, including E. coli, deeper into the meat so cooking is less likely to kill them. It actually drives bacteria inside the meat. So, the meat needs to be cooked thoroughly.
The home chef, who does not slaughter livestock in his condo or apartment kitchen, and preferring to buy meat already butchered and plastic packed in the supermarket, should find this information useful. If you buy your meat from the supermarket, there is no way to know if the meat is tenderized or not. There’s no label, so you would not know if the meat is safe if you want it rare or medium rare.
But don’t worry, because starting 2016, tenderized beef sold in the U.S. will have to be labeled, and with cooking instructions included too.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Al Almanza has this to say, “Labeling mechanically tenderized beef products and including cooking instructions on the package are important steps in helping consumers to safely prepare these products. This common sense change will lead to safer meals and fewer foodborne illnesses.”
As of now, cook your meat thoroughly.