Food safety attorney Bill Marler is calling for USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service to add special labeling to meats that have undergone mechanical tenderization because the products have been linked to outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7. Marler is arguing that tenderized meat should not be considered "intact" by FSIS for purposes of E. coli regulation.
Marler says that the assumption is that the E. coli pathogen, if present, would only be on the outside of the cut, and would be killed by minimal cooking. But, if needles or blades drive those bacteria into the center of the meat, only thorough cooking of the meat would make it safe, something few people do.
The American Meat Institute says no special labeling is needed, noting 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.