- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is requiring a mandatory label for mechanically tenderized beef, and the agency has pushed up companies' deadline to comply from 2018 to May 2016.
- Health officials and experts fear that the mechanical tenderization process could cause pathogens of foodborne illness to be pushed down into the meat where they may be harder to kill, even when the meat appears cooked. The label will remind consumers that they must cook mechanically tenderized meat to a higher internal temperature and let the meat rest for a certain amount of time after cooking as well.
- The USDA has also created the first government label and certification process for GMO-free foods. Companies would have to pay for this voluntary certification, but if certified, they would receive a label that reads "USDA Process Verified" in addition to a GMO-free indication.
The meat industry has fought back against this mandatory labeling initiative, arguing that beef producers already have adequate safety measures in place and that producers are proactive in implementing those measures. While the USDA estimates that mechanically tenderized beef makes up about 11% of beef products each year, beef processing plant employees estimate that percentage to be closer to 90% — a significant difference that bears potential changes in how consumers purchase and cook meat.
As for the GMO-free label, at the moment, many companies use a private certified label from the nonprofit Non-GMO Project. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said the label came at the request of "a leading global company," WRAL.com reports. GMO labeling continues to be a topic of much debate in the industry.