The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing to require the use of the descriptive designation ‘‘mechanically tenderized’’ on the labels of raw or partially cooked needle- or blade-tenderized beef products, including beef products injected with marinade or solution, unless such products are destined to be fully cooked at an official establishment. Beef products that have been needle- or blade-tenderized are referred to as ‘‘mechanically tenderized’’ products.
Meat products that are needle injected or blade tenderized should be cooked to a higher temperature than intact beef because in the process of injecting or blade tenderizing (as in chopped steak), the needles or blades can push pathogenic bacteria deep into the meat. So like ground beef, the heat has to penetrate further into the meat to kill the bacteria.
Processors inject meat in some cases when they want to marinade the product, or in other cases when they have a cheaper cut of meat that they want to inject solution to help the meat retain more moisture during cooking. Blade tenderizing is done to help break the connective tissue in the meat to make it easier to chew. Unfortunately, too many people cook this meat rare or medium rare, just like regular cuts of steak. But for safety, consumers should cook this type of meat to an internal temperature of 160 F.*(155 F for foodservice.) By requiring meat to be labeled as mechanically tenderized, and by having validated cooking instructions, it is more likely that this meat will be identified as meat that should be cooked to a higher temperature.
*or other temperature that is scientifically validated by the processor.