Health Canada Orders Labeling of Mechanically Tenderized Beef Meat
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | July 22, 2014 3:36 PM EST
Health Canada has ordered processors and sellers of mechanically tenderized beef meat to label their packages effective August 21.
Cattle cool down and drink water at a man-made reservoir in the mountains near Ignacio, Colorado June 11, 2014. The land where the cattle graze is leased from the Forest Service by third-generation rancher Steve Pargin. Several times a year, he and a crew led by his head cowboy, David Thompson, spend a week or more herding cattle from mountain range to mountain range to prevent them from causing damage to fragile ecosystems by staying in a single area too long. Picture taken June 11, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Beef mechanically tenderized must have a sticker that explicit says the contents of the package. Packaged steaks are likewise required to have and state cooking instructions that states the meat must be cooked to a high 63 C and must be turned at least twice.
Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers' Association of Canada, however said most people find cooking requirements too complicated. Instead, it would be best to ban mechanical tenderizing of meat.
"What average Canadian having a beer and a steak is going to measure the temperature of the meat?" the Canadian Press quoted Cran. "This process has the potential to seriously sicken people or cause fatalities."
Mark Klassen, director of technical services with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, said the new labelling, including the cooking instructions, was tested with a number of Canadians to check if they were understandable and practical enough.
"We've been able to achieve our food safety objectives and we've been able to achieve a more consistent temperature, which contributes to a better eating quality as well," Klassen said.
Keith Warriner, a food science professor at the University of Guelph, meanwhile suggested the government must also carry out an education campaign to ensure the success of the new labelling regulations. "Labels alone aren't enough to change people's attitudes and behaviours," Warriner said.
Cran instead suggested irradiating all meats to ensure they are safe for human consumption.
The federal agency explained the new regulations meant to ensure that tenderized meat is labelled from the processor to the consumer. It was also aimed to prevent future occurrence of issues in 2012 that led to the massive recall of beef contaminated with E. coli from Alberta's XL Foods.
Eighteen people got sick after eating meat linked to the plant.
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