Research has found that the process can spread pathogens to the beef and lead to foodborne illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked five illness outbreaks to needle or blade beef tenderization since 2003.
The American Meat Institute has no problem with the latter requirement, said James. H. Hodges, the group’s executive vice president.
“However, requiring that familiar products like ‘Sirloin Steak’ now be called ‘Mechanically Tenderized Sirloin Steak’ will lead consumers to believe that this product is new or different than those with which they are familiar,” he said.
Hughes said the requirement would be akin to suddenly requiring Ford to call its Explorer a “robotically assembled Ford Explorer.”
The proposed rule received a better reception from public interest groups, who hailed the proposed rule as significant step toward improved food safety.
“We have been calling for a label for mechanically tenderized meat for years because consumers deserve to know what they're putting in their carts and on their tables,” said Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest urged the agency to move swiftly to adopt the regulation.
“USDA should accelerate the requirement and make labels mandatory by January 2014,” the group said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.