Consumer Reports: Mechanically Tenderized Beef Risk - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Consumer Reports: Mechanically Tenderized Beef Risk

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Before you fire up the grill for some great summer meals, Consumer Reports has a
caution. The beef you buy may have been tenderized by machines, and that process
can introduce potentially deadly bacteria into your food.

The trouble is that sharp blades or needles can drive dangerous bacteria, including E.
coli, from the surface of the meat into the center, where they're harder to kill. That can
increase health risks, especially for people who eat their meat rare or medium rare.

The Centers for Disease Control has reports of four deaths and 174 illnesses in the past
10 years caused by mechanically tenderized beef that was contaminated with harmful
E. coli bacteria.

You can't tell by looking at the beef whether it has been run through a machine. Costco
now labels any beef that has been "blade tenderized." That after an outbreak was linked
to its meat sold in Canada last year.

Consumer Reports does not know exactly how much meat in the U.S. is tenderized by
machine. But it believes that labeling should be required so that people know to cook
it thoroughly. And the best way to be sure meat is thoroughly cooked is to use a meat
thermometer and make sure the temperature reaches 160° F in the center.

Also be aware that steak and roasts you get in restaurants may be mechanically
tenderized, too. So your safest bet is to order meat well done.

The federal government is currently weighing whether to require mandatory labeling for
mechanically tenderized meat. The American Meat Institute, a trade association, had
opposed labeling but says it may reconsider its position if new federal data suggest that
labeling would be helpful.


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