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Final USDA rule requires labeling for mechanically tenderized beef

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service released a final rule Wednesday that requires the labeling of mechanically tenderized beef and the inclusion of cooking instructions.

Effective May 2016 or one year from the date the rule is published in the Federal Register, these beef products must carry a label stating they have been mechanically, blade or needle tenderized.

The label must also incorporate cooking instructions that include the minimum internal temperatures and any hold or “dwell” times for the products.

FSIS chose to fast track the final rule for mechanically tenderized beef instead of waiting until the next rule making period in 2018 because of the public health risks associated with the products. The CDC has attributed six outbreaks of foodborne illness to mechanically tenderized beef since 2000. FSIS said the new rule could prevent hundreds of illnesses each year.

“Labeling mechanically tenderized beef products and including cooking instructions on the package are important steps in helping consumers to safely prepare these products,” Deputy Under Secretary Al Almanza said in a press release. “This common sense change will lead to safer meals and fewer foodborne illnesses.”

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