With summer just around the corner, more people are firing up their grills.
But before you start cooking that ribeye steak or chicken, you should become more aware of possible contamination, CNN reports.
With bacteria such as campylobacter and salmonellla being a major concern, it is necessary to make certain meat and poultry are cooked at a temperature high enough to kill the bacteria.
Now some meats are bearing a new label warning that they are “mechanically tenderized” or “blade tenderized.”
Mechanical tenderizing is the process in which meat is made more tender by using blades or needles to break down the muscle fibers in the meats. This process, while tenderizing the meat, also leaves it more susceptible to contamination.
The label has been required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture since May 17, and might include instructions for safe cooking of the product.
The USDA believes the new label is necessary to protect the consumer. A department representative said of the meat, “It doesn’t look any different. It’s not filled with holes from the needle piercings.”
The danger of mechanical tenderizing lies in the possibility of bacteria on the surface of the meat being pushed into the interior of the meat. This means the inside of the meat, which typically cooks slower than the outer surface, may be undercooked, allowing the bacteria to survive.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported tracking six outbreaks since 2000 that were caused by mechanically tenderized beef.
Patricia Buck, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention, said,”We need to improve how we tell consumers and the food service workers about the particular risks that would be involved in cooking it so that they can reduce the risk of illness.”