Representative Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., has called for labels identifying mechanically tenderized beef and pork products in the wake of National Steak and Poultry's recent recall. The Chair of the House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee said USDA has been aware of the E. coli risks associated with mechanically tenderized steaks as early as 1999, but has refused to act. She says USDA should move immediately to require labeling that clearly identifies mechanically tenderized beef and pork products for all processing facilities, retailers and consumers.
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service believes there is an association between non-intact steaks (blade tenderized prior to further processing) and illnesses in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, South Dakota and Washington.
Meanwhile the American Meat Institute defends mechanically tenderized meat. AMI points out those USDA officials have clearly affirmed that blade-tenderized steaks are comparable in safety to steaks that have not been mechanically tenderized. AMI say they don't believe that special labeling declaring the mechanical tenderization process will provide meaningful or actionable information to consumers.
AMI points out that all steaks in retail stores, whether blade-tenderized or not must bear safe handling labels instructing consumers how to cook and handle them to ensure they are safe when served.