Whats safest? Cook it fully
The Star called the USDAs Meat and Poultry Hotline (888-674-6854) to learn the agencys current advice for consumers on how to cook mechanically tenderized steaks.
That is, assuming a consumer could determine whether the steaks had been mechanically tenderized, since there are no labeling requirements.
Thats a good question, the person answering the hotline said.
The Star was put on hold, twice. Eventually, The Star was told to call the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service technical center in Omaha, Neb. The expert there said The Star should call the Meat and Poultry Hotline.
After the newspaper explained that it already had called the Meat and Poultry Hotline, the expert at the technical center said that the needles used to tenderize beef can push pathogens into the interior of the meat, so its best to cook such steaks thoroughly like hamburger.
While some producers voluntarily label such products, the expert said, unfortunately the agency is still working on a mandate that would require all of them to do so.
Until then, the expert said, if you dont know whether a steak has been mechanically tenderized, its the safest bet to cook it thoroughly.