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Mandatory Labels For Mechanically Tenderized Beef

Web posted on August 23, 2014

August 21, 2014 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada Today, Health Minister Rona Ambrose announced new labelling requirements for mechanically tenderized beef (MTB) to help consumers know when they are buying MTB products and how to cook them.

Starting today, all MTB products sold in Canada must be clearly labelled as "mechanically tenderized," and include instructions for safe cooking. The new labels will emphasize the importance of cooking MTB to a minimum internal temperature of 63C (145F) and turning over mechanically tenderized steaks at least twice during cooking to kill harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will be verifying that labels meet the new requirements.

Mechanical tenderization of meat is a common practice used by the food industry to improve the tenderness and flavour of beef by using needles or blades to break down muscle fibres.

"Without clear labels, it is difficult for consumers to know which beef products have been mechanically tenderized. 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." Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health.

This regulatory change applies to all industry sectors selling uncooked MTB to other industry members or consumers. This includes, but is not limited to, grocery retailers, butcher shops, meat processors, and importers of MTB.

Federally registered plants that produce mechanically tenderized beef cuts, such as steaks or roasts, have been required to label those products as tenderized and with cooking instructions since July 2013.

This change is an example of how the Government is promoting healthy and safe food choices to consumers and preventing food safety risks as promised under the Healthy and Safe Food for Canadians Framework.

As part of its commitment to promoting food safety, Health Canada also recently released new industry guidelines to improve safe cooking and handling information on packaged raw ground meat and raw ground poultry products sold in Canada. To be used by retailers, processors and importers who choose to include food safety information on their products, the guidelines provide standards on what information and symbols to include on the label to boost consumer recognition and uptake, and how the label should be formatted and placed on ground meat packages so that it can be easily seen by consumers.


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