by Morinville News Staff
Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose announced new labelling requirements for mechanically tenderized beef (MTB) Thursday. The Mechanical tenderization of meat is common practice in the food industry where needles or blades are used to break down muscle fibres to improve tenderness and flavour in beef. The government says the new mandatory labelling will let consumers know they are buying MTB products and provide information on how best to cook the product.
Effective Aug. 21, all MTB products sold in Canada must be clearly labelled as such, and packaging must include instructions for safe cooking, including an emphasis on the importance of cooking MTB to an internal minimum temperature of 63°C (145°F). Additional information will speak to the importance of turning mechanically tenderized steaks at least twice during the cooking process to kill harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. The labelling change applies to all industry sectors selling uncooked MTB to other industry members or consumers, and will affect grocery retailers, butcher shops, meat processors, and importers of MTB.
“Without clear labels, it is difficult for consumers to know which beef products have been mechanically tenderized,” said Minister Ambrose in a press release issued by Health Canada Thursday morning. “Today’s announcement, along with new industry labelling guidelines we have released, will help Canadians know when they are buying these products and how to cook them. This regulatory change is another step in our government’s commitment to make certain that consumers have the food safety information they need.”
Ambrose’s announcement follows new industry guidelines to improve safe cooking and handling information on packaged raw ground meat and raw ground poultry products sold in Canada. The labelling is to be used by retailers, processors and importers who choose to include food safety information on their products. The guidelines provide standards on the information and symbols to be include on the label and how the label should be formatted and placed on ground meat packages so that it can be easily seen by consumers to inform their choices.