Why Your Steak Isn't Safe
.. the Christmas eve recall of 248,000 pounds of needle-tenderized steaks ... now affects people in several states and that the meat was intended for several chain restaurants. The contaminated meat, produced in Oklahoma, has sickened at least 19 people in 16 states.
Mechanically tenderized "non-intact" beef? Uh oh. The great thing about intact steak is that harmful contaminants are on the outside surface; the bacteria get killed by the high heat of searing the outside surface. You don't have to worry about the safety of intact steak because its insides are relatively sterile. But if the steak is pre-treated to tenderize it, watch out! Tenderizing can drive harmful bacteria right into the interior where they won't get killed unless the steak is thoroughly cooked. ...
According to Food Chemical News (September 28), Congressional representative Rosa DeLauro (Dem-CT), who chairs the House appropriations agriculture subcommittee, has called on USDA to take immediate action to require labeling of meat that has been mechanically tenderized.
And USA Today (December 30) has produced another long investigative report on the safety of school meals, this one citing plenty of examples of companies that successfully produce or serve safe meat and of countries that do food safety better than we do. In the meantime, the food safety bill is still stuck in Congress. Let's hope that it gets moving early in 2010.
The trim is then tempered to near post-mortem temperature to facilitate the separation of lean from fat by centrifugal force. By managing raw materials and attention to processing applications, we are able to closely match finished product fat and moisture content to customer specifications, typically achieving a 94% lean or better finished product.
At this point, the lean trim may be treated with a pH enhancement process that forms ammonium hydroxide in the finished product. Ammonium hydroxide is a natural constituent of meat, GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) approved by the FDA, and used in other foods such as baked goods, cheeses, gelatins, and puddings. In two independent process validation studies conducted by Iowa State University and National Food Laboratory, Inc., the BPI process1 eliminated all E.coliO157:H7 in the inoculated product, as well as producing significant reductions of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. The pH enhanced product is marketed as BPI® Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings. BPI® Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings are approved for unrestricted use in ground beef and hamburger with no labeling restrictions other than beef.
Dear meat industry,
You guys have ruined something I love- burgers. You have ruined bbq, most fast food joints and a good portion of the in-laws cooking. I don't want some cheap radiated gross slab of slurry to eat. I don't care if it is "chemically safe" to eat - a bucket of poo warmed to the right temperature is also safe to eat. That doesn't make it right, only cheap.
If I offered to set you up with a trained analyst who would perform a daily assay that would confirm that you had not molested any children in the past 24 hours (total cost of analyst, testing kit and instrumentation approximately $300,000 per year) I don't think it would be totally fair to liken your rejection of this offer to proof of child molestation.
Thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald's.
McDonald's food safety and quality assurance standards are among the highest in the industry. With extensive food safety measures in place throughout the entire supply chain process, McDonald's standards meet or exceed government requirements. We only use 100 percent USDA-inspected ground beef in our hamburger patties. We do not add ammonia to its hamburger patties. In fact, ammonia is only used by our suppliers as a processing aid to kill harmful bacteria. This process is approved by the USDA and ensures safe, quality food. Additionally, ammonia is a basic building block of protein and occurs naturally in beef. Lean beef trimmings are approved by the USDA and are a widely used and well-established industry practice. They are subject to the same stringent standards, and inspection and testing practices, required for all beef used in the production of our hamburger patties. We're continuously working with our suppliers, local, state and federal agencies, our industry and others, to ensure these standards are rigorously maintained and, more importantly, that we serve safe, high quality products to every customer, every time they visit our restaurants.
Again, thank you for contacting McDonald's. We hope to have the opportunity of serving you again soon under the Golden Arches.
McDonald's Customer Response Center
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