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article imageFSIS OKs use of beef hearts in ground beef but not on label

By Karen Graham     Feb 3, 2017 in Food
The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has pulled a fast one on the American consumer, quietly ending a 40-year rule against using beef hearts and tongue in ground beef.
According to the Consumerist, this revamping of policy by the FSIS basically means that companies will be allowed to use as many beef hearts in their ground beef products as they desire.
The turn-around in policy has caught the beef industry by surprise because disclosure of the use of beef hearts in ground beef is not required, reports Food Safety News. The FSIS rule against disclosure of the types of products used in ground beef has set off a big discussion about transparency in the industry.
Policy Memo 027
According to FSIS policy in 1981, Policy Memo 027 stated that chopped beef, ground beef, and hamburger could only contain "beef of skeletal origin, or from the diaphragm or esophagus."
The memo also states that "Heart meat and tongue meat, as organ meats, are not acceptable ingredients in chopped beef, ground beef or hamburger." At that time, the FSIS used this rationale for banning the use of beef hearts or tongue in chopped beef, ground beef, or hamburger because it was not considered as beef or permitted to be declared as beef on labels.
In an "Ask FSIS" blog dated July 25, 2016, FSIS declared: "Beef heart meat is cardiac muscle trimmed from the ventricular wall of a beef heart. It is included in the definition of meat in 9 CFR 301.2 and there is no limitation on the use of beef heart meat in the standards of identity for chopped beef, ground beef, or hamburger. Therefore, beef heart meat can be used in unlimited quantities and declared as "beef" on the label."
Consumer acceptance is the big issue
It comes down to a matter of taste and more particularly, perception. Will people accept the fact that their chopped or ground beef contains more than just skeletal meat? Some people, like this writer, don't eat beef heart, an organ meat.What do you think about this sneaky change in policy?
More about USDA, Ground beef, beef hearts, policy change, government transparency
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