Cook­ing tem­per­a­tures are key with ten­der­ized meat

The Woolwich Observer - - RURAL CONNECTIONS -

ABOUT 20 PER CENT of Cana­dian meat is me­chan­i­cally ten­der­ized, ac­cord­ing to Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

Me­chan­i­cal ten­der­iza­tion is per­formed by cut­ting through the mus­cle fi­bres and con­nec­tive tis­sues with small blades or nee­dles to improve meat ten­der­ness. While this might bring pounded, swiss or sal­is­bury steak to mind, mod­ern ten­der­iz­ing equip­ment can pierce meat so finely that cus­tomers don’t even no­tice it.

In Canada, me­chan­i­cally ten­der­ized meat has to be la­belled as such, be­cause with­out proper cook­ing, the process can in­tro­duce bac­te­ria, like E.coli, deep into the meat, which might not be cooked to as high a tem­per­a­ture as the ex­te­rior of the cut.

“If the work we do to iden­tify safe cook­ing con­di­tions pre­vents one per­son from get­ting sick from eat­ing un­der­cooked meat, I would feel well re­warded for our team’s ef­forts,” says Dr. Xian­qin Yang, a re­search sci­en­tist, food safety and pro­cess­ing, meat mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy, with the fed­eral min­istry.

Yang and her team at the AAFC La­combe Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre have stud­ied how to best kill E.coli in three cuts of me­chan­i­cally ten­der­ized meat: steaks, roasts and minute steaks. It turns out the even­ness of the cook­ing plays a big role.

For steaks, in ad­di­tion to reach­ing an in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture of 63° Cel­cius, the team found that flip­ping the steak at least twice while grilling elim­i­nated more bac­te­ria than a sin­gle flip did. Mul­ti­ple flips cre­ate a more even cook­ing tem­per­a­ture, and as a bonus, the “eat­ing qual­ity” was im­proved too.

Re­searchers also stud­ied ten­der­ized roasts cooked in con­ven­tional ovens, con­vec­tion ovens and slow cook­ers. They found no dif­fer­ence in bac­te­ria lev­els of the roasts cooked on high or low in the slow cooker, as long as the meat was cooked to an in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture of 63°C. How­ever, for full-sized ovens, both the tem­per­a­ture at

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