Log in Subscribe Join Grass Roots Action

USDA Announced Mechanically Tenderized Beef Labeling Final Rule

Monday, May 18, 2015

(North American Meat Institute)

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published a final rule, Descriptive Designation for Needle or Blade Tenderized (Mechanically Tenderized) Beef Products, which requires including the descriptive term "Mechanically Tenderized," "Blade Tenderized" or "Needle Tenderized" as a qualifying statement on the principal display panel of beef products that have been so processed. The statement must be in the same font and color and one third the size of the product name.

The rule also requires validated cooking instructions, which must include the method of cooking; a validated minimum internal temperature that would kill any pathogens present in the product; a statement whether product cooked in a way previously described would require a rest or dwell at a specific temperature prior to consumption; and instruction that product temperatures be measured by a thermometer. FSIS made available a guidance document to assist establishments in developing validated cooking instructions for their mechanically tenderized beef products .

The final rule differs from the proposed rule, which would have required a descriptive designation, "Mechanically Tenderized," be part of the product name and in the same color, font and style as the beef cut name. Also, the proposal would have required mechanically tenderized product labels to include validated cooking instructions and not allow only an endpoint cooking temperature instruction.

In a statement, Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter said, "We are confident in the safety of products that are mechanically tenderized to increase tenderness, a trait that consumers desire in meat products. Data show that our proactive, food safety efforts have improved these products' safety profile over the last several years.

While we don't believe these products need special labeling, we recognize that this rule is less burdensome than the earlier version and represents a compromise. We will work with the Food Safety and Inspection Service to implement the new labeling requirement in the most effective manner for both industry and consumers."

The final rule will be implemented May 18, 2016, one year after today's publication in the Federal Register. The label changes can be approved generically.

 share on facebook  share on twitter