meatchoice_406x250While appearing before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA will work to introduce labels for mechanically tenderized beef within the next two years. New labeling laws are implemented in two-year increments so that new label rules made in 2013 or 2014 will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2016. When the mechanically tenderized beef label wasn’t finalized before the end of 2014, advocates were disappointed by the prospect that it wouldn’t make it onto beef packages until 2018. At the appropriations hearing, Vilsack told Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) that this might not turn out to be the case. “The way it’s currently structured, we probably couldn’t implement this until 2018,” Vilsack told reporters after the appropriations hearing. “We’re going to try to move that up. I think we’re going to move it up to 2016.” Mechanical tenderization of beef poses health risks because it can transfer pathogens from the surface of the meat into the center. If these cuts are then not cooked thoroughly enough, the pathogens can sicken the consumer. Patricia Buck, executive director of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention, told Food Safety News that she is very happy with what Vilsack said, but that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) still has to finish with labeling rule. “The ball is now in OMB’s court, and it is extremely important that they finalize the rule and send it back to USDA,” she said, adding, “The sooner the better.”