Mechanically tenderized meats will have to be labelled

As of July 2, federally inspected meat plants in Canada will be required to label beef steaks or roasts that have been mechanically tenderized, the federal government announced May 17.

The move is part of new mandatory federal requirements designed to strengthen control over E. coli. Contaminated needles used to mechanically tenderize meat were identified as one of the factors contributing to the recent E. coli outbreak at Alberta processor XL Foods Ltd.

While these actions are specific to federally registered plants, Health Canada also intends to propose broader mandatory labels to identify beef that has been mechanically tenderized at retail outlets like supermarkets. This voluntary practice has been in place since 2012, a federal release says.

The government rolled out a new Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan May 17 that Prime Minister Stephen Harper says will strengthen food safety rules, make inspections more effective and improve consumer service and information.

“Canada has a world-class food safety system and our government is committed to taking real steps to make it even stronger,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in a release.

Through the action plan, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will launch a number of significant food safety enhancements over the next two years. Most notably, the CFIA will work with consumer groups and industry to develop new regulations that will bring into force the Safe Food for Canadians Act, passed in November 2012.

This spring, the CFIA will launch a two-year-long review of the food regulations in Canada that will need to be revised in order to bring the Safe Food for Canadians Act into force.

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