The government of Canada announced last week that all mechanically tenderized beef (MTB) sold in the country now has to be clearly labeled and the new labels will have to include instructions for safe cooking.

MTB is a process, used by food processing and food services firms, to improve the tenderness and flavor of beef. The practice involves using blades or needles to break down muscle fibers.

According to a report in Food Safety News, Canada last year published results from research that found that risk of E. coli O157 increased five-fold in MTB-treated beef, compared to untreated cuts.

"Without clear labels, it is difficult for consumers to know which beef products have been mechanically tenderized," Canada's health minister Rona Ambrose said.

"This regulatory change is another step in our government's commitment to make certain that consumers have the food safety information they need," she added.

According to the regulatory change, MTB-treated beef should be cooked at a minimum internal temperature of 63 degrees C and the meat should be turned over at least twice during cooking to kill harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will be verifying that the new labels meet the requirements, outlined by the government last week.