The USDA has been working on new labeling regulations for mechanically tenderized beef in the United States. The USDA was hoping that consumers would be seeing these new labels on steaks and whole cuts of beef this year, but the US Government missed the deadline.
Since the deadline was missed, consumers will have to wait 3 more years before the new labels on meat products will be implemented. The initial plan for new regulated labels was to have new laws finalized by the goal of 2014 for implementation by 2016. The USDA and the White House Office of Management and Budget are the departments that were responsible for finalizing the regulations.
With the missed deadline, the earliest that consumers will start seeing these new labels in grocery stores is now 2018. This is because all new labeling laws are implemented in 2 year increments so that manufacturers have time to prepare for the changes before rolling out the new labels on all beef products that require them.
With the new labeling regulations, manufacturers will need to start providing cooking instructions for mechanically tenderized meats on food labels. This is because when the meat is mechanically tenderized, it is done with knives and needles that drive bacteria into the meat products.
The USDA division of Food Safety and Inspection Service originally proposed these new labels back in June of 2013, but that unfortunately did not leave enough time to get approval from all of the agencies that are needed.
Christopher Waldrop, the director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America, was quoted saying “It’s extremely disappointing because consumers are going to be at risk from this product for much longer than they need to be. The delay was totally unnecessary.”
Since the new labeling regulations are being delayed, consumers just need to remember to always ensure that any meats that they cook are cooked properly to avoid becoming sick. Mechanically tenderized beef has already been tied to a large E.coli outbreak in Canada back in 2012.
There have also been E.coli outbreaks in the United States in recent years, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. These outbreaks are responsible for 174 people becoming sick, and 4 people died.
Here is a handy meat cooking safety guide to help you cook all your meats properly.