Agriculture Department rolls out new regulations for tenderized beef

Some cuts of beef are pierced in a process meant to break up muscle fibers so that they will be tender. But studies have shown that mechanically tenderized meat presents a higher risk of containing pathogens.

Five outbreaks of foodborne illness outbreaks have been linked to needle or blade tenderization after the beef was served in restaurants or homes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the USDA recommends solid cuts of beef be cooked to 145 degrees, meat that has been tenderized must be cooked to 160 degrees — the same temperature as ground beef — in order to be considered safe.

The rule’s proposal comes seven months after it was submitted to the White House for review.

Still Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a vocal food safety advocate in Congress, lauded the action.

“With summer grilling season upon us, this proposed rule comes at a great time to raise awareness among consumers of how important it is to cook their meat appropriately,” DeLauro said in a statement urging the agency to finalize the rule.

Once it is published in the Federal Register, interested parties will have 60 days to comment on the draft rule.