Prevalence and Conditions of Mechanical Tenderization and Enhancement of Beef at Independent and Minor Chain Meat Retailers in North Carolina
Mechanical tenderization and enhancement are processes used to improve sensory attributes of beef. Beef products that have been mechanically tenderized or enhanced may carry greater foodborne illness risks than intact beef because of introduction of pathogens into the meat. The resulting heightened risk requires various risk management steps, such as stricter time/temperature cooking combinations for pathogen destruction. Approximately 10.5% of beef products produced from manufacturing facilities in the United States are mechanically tenderized; however, little is known about the prevalence of this process in retail settings. A semi-structured interview was employed with meat retailers to determine the prevalence of mechanical tenderization and enhancement of beef onsite. Information about equipment used, the cuts and thickness of beef used, and product storage parameters were collected. Of the 85 independent and minor chain meat retailers in the sample site (Wake, Durham, and Orange counties in North Carolina), 23 meat retailers mechanically tenderize or enhance beef products onsite. Self-reported practices suggested that meat retailer personnel handle mechanically tenderized beef without focusing on specific risk-reduction practices The results of this work can be used to design educational materials for meat retailers and staff.
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