USDA’s new labeling requirements for mechanically tenderized beef take effect.

  • As previously covered on this blog, in 2015, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued new labeling requirements for raw or partially cooked beef products that have been mechanically tenderized.
  • Under the new requirements, raw or partially cooked beef products must bear labels stating that they have been mechanically, blade, or needle tenderized.  Cooking instructions also must appear on product labels to facilitate safe preparation by consumers.  According to FSIS, the need for new labeling requirements arises because the tenderizing of meat by mechanical means can introduce pathogens from the surface of the cut to the interior, making proper cooking very important.  Mechanically tenderized products are indistinguishable in appearance from intact product, which makes labeling the only way to convey the importance of safe preparation to consumers.
  • The new requirements took effect on May 17, 2016.

Canada approves genetically modified salmon for sale.

  • As previously covered on this blog, in November 2015, FDA issued its first approval for a genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for direct human consumption.  The AquAdvantage Salmon is an Atlantic salmon engineered to grow twice as fast as its natural counterpart.  Since FDA’s approval, the GE salmon has been mired in controversy.  A provision in the omnibus spending bill passed in December 2015 blocks the sale of GE salmon until FDA publishes labeling guidelines to inform consumers of the product’s GE content.  FDA also has been sued over whether it exceeded its authority in approving the GE salmon in the first place.
  • Canada now has approved the AquAdvantage salmon for sale as food, making it the nation’s first GE approval that is not a crop.  The AquAdvantage salmon underwent separate safety and nutrition assessments by Health Canada for use as food and by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for use as livestock feed.  These reviews both found the salmon to be as safe and nutritious as conventional salmon.  The AquAdvantage salmon will not be required to bear any special GE labeling at retail.
  • Considering the aftermath of FDA’s approval of AquAdvantage, it remains to be seen whether the product will face similar controversy and challenge in the Canadian market.