Would Ensure Consumers Have Necessary Information to Stay Safe

WASHINGTON, DC—Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) today called on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to finalize the pending rule for labeling mechanically tenderized beef products. DeLauro applauded the rule when it was proposed last June. The letter she sent to Vilsack can be read in its entirety here.

“I am concerned about USDA’s delay in finalizing this important rule, which is necessary to provide consumers with accurate information about these products so they can prepare them safely,” DeLauro wrote to Vilsack. “Non-intact products like mechanically tenderized beef present a different risk than intact meat products and have a higher recommended cooking temperature from USDA.  This higher temperature is intended to kill pathogens that may have been introduced into the meat during processing.  But because these mechanically tenderized products are not labeled, consumers may prepare them as if they were intact cuts of meat… Without accurate and complete labels on these products we are not providing consumers with the information they truly need to follow safe preparation practices.

DeLauro is a former Chairwoman of the subcommittee responsible for funding the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). She is a longtime advocate for food safety standards that protect and inform American consumers, and has made the safety and transparency of mechanically tenderized beef a top priority.

If the rule is not finalized by December 31 implementation will be delayed until at least 2018 due to internal USDA requirements on compliance dates for meat and poultry labeling. A 2008 USDA study indicated that about 50 million pounds of mechanically tenderized beef products are sold monthly. Mechanically tenderized beef products are more susceptible to pathogens like E. coli O157:H7, because they can introduced into the product during the tenderization process.