As of August 21, 2014, mechanically tenderized beef sold in
Canada must be labelled to identify that it has been subject to
this processing, as well as to provide safe cooking
When performed at retail or otherwise prior to purchase, the
mechanical tenderization of meat is not always obvious to the
purchaser. When meat has been mechanically tenderized, bacteria
from the surface of the cut may find its way into the center of the
meat, increasing the risk of food-borne illness if not cooked
properly. The new requirements, then, will inform the consumer
about how the meat has been processed, and how to kill off those
nasty – and potentially dangerous - bacteria.
The motivation for this new legislative requirement goes back to
a 2012 XL Foods E. coli outbreak and recall, where 5 of
the 18 incidents were thought to relate to beef tenderized at the
retail level. Following a health risk assessment completed in 2013,
Health Canada found a five-fold increase in the risk from
mechanically tenderized beef, compared to intact beef.
Note that the regulation applies only to uncooked, solid cut
beef (including veal), and not to other types of meat, or to ground
beef. The regulation will apply to grocery retailers, butcher
shops, meat processors and importers, but not to vendors like
restaurants or cafeterias. Where the beef is not prepackaged (e.g.
the grocery store meat counter), the cut must be identified as
mechanically tenderized on in-store signage, or otherwise prior to
the consumer making his or her selection.
The packaged beef must be labelled as "mechanically
tenderized", and include safe cooking instructions on the
principal display panel. The safe cooking instructions must read:
"Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 63°C
(145°F)" and, for steaks, "Turn steak over at least
twice during cooking".
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