Saturday, February 24, 2007

What In The World Is Pasteurized Beef?

My husband and I were at a burger chain the other day in Toronto and noticed that the menu claimed their hamburgers were made of "lean pasteurized ground steaks." Neither of us had ever heard of pasteurized steaks and so asked the wait staff. Poor hapless fellow didn't have a clue (indeed, he didn't seem to be aware of the boast in the first place).

When working at Labatt (mmmm, beer) I learned that pasteurization is a process in which foods and beverages are heated to high temperatures in order to reduce the number of pathogens, such as bacteria, in the food. But with burgers, it was my impression that cooking the meat until it is well done would serve the same purpose.

Anyway, I wrote an email to the company but it's been a few weeks with no response so I couldn't resist using a trusty search engine to do a little research. It seems that a few years back, a US Senator from Iowa inserted language into a bill allowing irradiated beef to be labeled as (cold) pasteurized. According to a posting on the regulations at the time required irradiated food to be labeled as such in both text and with this symbol (which by the way doesn't look too scary to me and in fact suggests the opposite: green and natural).

Does anyone know whether the Harkin amendment was enacted or what "pasteurized" beef means in Canada?

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