New regs for Monday: Financial aid and meat labels

Monday’s edition of the Federal Register contains new rules from the Department of Education for how it handles financial aid and a final rule from the Agriculture Department for mechanically tenderized meat.

Financial aid: The Department of Education is considering amending its cash management rules for handling student financial aid to ensure students aren’t incurring any unreasonable or uncommon financial account fees or led to believe they must open a particular financial account to receive their federal student aid.

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The rule would regulate the way colleges can enter into marketing agreements with banks and prepaid card issuers, which market debit or prepaid cards to students as a more convenient way to get the credit balance of their financial aid.

The Education Department said many institutions have shifted the cost of administering the financial aid from the institution to the student.

“Given that approximately nine million student attend schools with these agreements, that approximately $25 billion dollars in Pell Grant and Direct Loan program funds are disbursed to undergraduates at these institutions, that students are a captive audience subject to marketing from their institution, that the college card market is expanding, and given the concerns raised by existing practices, we believe regulatory action governing the disbursement of student aid is warranted," the agency said in its rule-making.

The public has 45 days to comment.

Meat: The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Services issued a final rule that will require meat packers to label beef that is mechanically tenderized, blade tenderized or needle tenderized.

The new rule also applies to beef products injected with a marinade or solution, unless the products will be fully cooked or will receive another full lethality treatment at an official establishment. Labels of raw and partially cooked needle- or blade-tenderized beef products destined for household consumers, hotels, restaurants or similar institutions will also have to bear validated cooking instructions.

The instructions will have to specify the minimum internal temperatures and any rest times for the products to ensure that they are fully cooked.

The FSIS said it's amending the regulations because scientific evidence shows mechanically tenderized beef products need to be fully cooked in order to reduce the risk of pathogenic bacteria that may be transferred to the meat’s interior.

The rule will take effect on May 17, 2016.