July 22, 2014


Labelling for tenderized beef in Canada to take effect from August 2014


From August 2014, mechanically tenderised beef must labelled by registered beef processors in Canada, in accordance to a law developed by the federal government following the largest beef recall in the country's history.


Food-safety authorities identified mechanically tenderised beef as part of the problem. Beef steaks sold at a Costco Wholesale store in Edmonton, Alberta, were linked to several confirmed E. coli infections. However, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was unable to establish if the steaks were contaminated before or after arriving at the store.


In addition, XL Foods Inc., Brooks, Alberta, was connected to beef contaminated with E. coli that sickened 18 people. A subsequent recall included 1,800 beef products. XL Foods accounted for 35% of Canada's beef-processing capacity.


Brazil-based JBS SA bought out XL Foods in 2012.


In May 2013, food-safety authorities announced that registered plants producing mechanically tenderised beef must label products as tenderised and provide cooking instructions to protect consumers against foodborne illness. The requirement is part of a larger federal initiative called Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan. Voluntary labeling practices had been established in 2012.


The USDA proposed labeling requirements which included emphasising validated cooking methods, minimum internal temperatures and resting time for mechanically tenderised beef. The proposed requirements also included labeling mechanically tenderised beef products.


In October 2013, the American Meat Institute recommended that the agency withdraw the proposed labeling rule.

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