Beef Labeling Rule Is Caught in Bureaucratic Limbo
While I like my steaks medium to well done, the rest of my family likes their beef nearly raw, and so the mechanical tenderizing process is disturbing to me.
A new labeling rule that food safety advocates say could prevent illnesses and save lives appears to be mired in White House bureaucracy.
The proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture would require labels on steaks and other beef products that have been mechanically tenderized, a process using automated needles or knives that can drive deadly pathogens deep into the interior of the meat.
Those pathogens can survive and cause illnesses if consumers fail to cook the cuts thoroughly.
The proposed regulation has been under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget since September 2012. In December, OMB extended its review for an undetermined period.
An official at the budget office, which reviews the cost of implementing such proposed regulations, said last week that the agency does not comment on rules under review.
And others pushing the proposal, including a U.S. senator, said they have not been told a reason for the delay.
But food safety groups have been asking for labels on such products since 2009, and they say the extended review unnecessarily leaves consumers at risk.
“A disturbing pattern has developed with the Obama administration to drag its feet to implement food safety regulations,” said Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist and food safety expert with Food & Water Watch. “…It seems that a new policy to label mechanically tenderized meat — that is a no-brainer to us — has fallen into that same black hole.”