The USDA failed to meet the Dec. 31, 2014 deadline for finalizing and submitting its rule for proposed labeling of mechanically tenderized meat to White House Office of Management and Budget. What could have been implemented by 2016 will now have to wait at least until 2018.
Since meat tenderized with tools, such as knives and needles, can drive bacteria inside the product, organizations like the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention say labeling mechanically tenderized beef products will protect consumers from foodborne illness by identifying the products and by providing consumers with adequate information about how to safely prepare and handle this type of product.
Meanwhile, the meat industry opposes this labeling requirement, arguing that this type of meat does not pose a significant risk and special cooking instructions aren’t warranted. In October 2013, the American Meat Institute told USDA’s FSIS that antimicrobial measures instituted by processors assure that the meat is safe.
FSIS first proposed the labeling in June 2013 out of concern that consumers aren’t cooking the meat properly to eliminate pathogens.