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Costco Prime tri-tip: "blade tenderized"


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#1 Dana Myers

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 02:49 PM

Cooked-up some Costco Prime tri-tip last night (quite the value, I must say). I noticed on the label "blade tenderized". I hadn't noticed it before (but I can't say I've always looked). This is a process basically the same as a large industrial Jicard, which may increase the risk of surface E. coli being driven deep into the cut. Usually we think of E. coli with ground beef, but here's a case where unground beef could potentially have E. coli below the surface.

Despite a very close inspection of the meat, I could find no evidence at all of tiny blade cuts. So it is possible these cuts came from a carcass that hadn't entirely been blade tenderized, I suppose.

I cooked as usual, well below the 160F internal for killing E. coli and it was wonderful as usual. None of my dinner guests have reported signs of food-poisoning yet :-) But if you're concerned about food-borne illness - particularly if any of your "customers" are high-risk (youngsters, older folks, etc.) - you might want to think about "blade tenderized" meat and cooking temperature.

Dana
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#2 Dana Myers

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 03:12 PM

Interesting information about mechanical tenderization found here.

Dana
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#3 Scott Hares

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 11:27 PM

I think I would be slightly annoyed to realize my TriTip had been jaccard-id, and share your concern for safety considering a 'tender cut' should not need to be cooked to a pathogen safe 140+. Was this labeling obvious or easy to miss?

#4 Dana Myers

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 03:21 PM

View PostScott Hares, on 01 December 2012 - 11:27 PM, said:

I think I would be slightly annoyed to realize my TriTip had been jaccard-id, and share your concern for safety considering a 'tender cut' should not need to be cooked to a pathogen safe 140+. Was this labeling obvious or easy to miss?

I'm sorry I didn't snap a photo of the label. It was machine printed in the 'notes' on the label just below the weight and price. Basically something like "BLADE TENDERIZED. THE USDA RECOMMENDS COOKING TO 160F."

Dana
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#5 Frank Smith

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 07:04 PM

I strolled by the meat section at Costco tonight and was shocked at the widespread use of mechanical tenderizing. Everything from choice and prime tritip to prime standing rib roasts. Below is an excerpt from this link: http://barfblog.com/...enderized-meat/

"In a test, Holley spread E. coli O157:H7 that he grew in a lab on a piece of beef. The meat was then run through the machines to see what happened to the bacteria on the surface.

In that instance, Holley found that 10 per cent of the bacteria from the surface was forced into the centre of the meat.

An earlier test using a gel visible under ultraviolet light also found that the material on the surface of the meat doesn’t only contaminate the meat – it can also spread to the needles or blades on a tenderizing machine. Holley said it can be “almost impossible” to properly clean the machines, which can then spread E. coli to other pieces of meat that are tenderized."


They indicate that 2% of meat may be contaminated on the surface. Not a huge percentage, but why take a chance? I have a jaccard at home, but I limit its use to cuts that will be cooked to temps above 160 degrees. Quite frankly, I do not notice much of a difference in tenderness for most cuts. I applaud Costco's disclosure; however, I will shop elsewhere if Costco only offers the mechanically tenderized cuts. I noticed that they do offer larger cryovaced cuts of tritip, etc. without the mechanical tenderizing.

#6 Dana Myers

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 07:15 PM

View PostFrank Smith, on 06 December 2012 - 07:04 PM, said:

I applaud Costco's disclosure; however, I will shop elsewhere if Costco only offers the mechanically tenderized cuts. I noticed that they do offer larger cryovaced cuts of tritip, etc. without the mechanical tenderizing.

I'm wondering if the labeling might not be entirely correct. Individually-packaged meats in the foam trays at Costco probably arrive in large cryovac packs and are trimmed/packaged on-site. It occurs to me that either Costco is blade-tenderizing on-site, or they've included the language on every beef label regardless of whether the meat was previously blade-tenderized. I'll email Costco and ask.

Costco has been emailed; will report back when I hear anything.

Dana

Edited by Dana Myers, 06 December 2012 - 08:11 PM.


#7 Bill Bain

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 08:20 AM

Talked to a BBQ friend who was at Costco and he checked out the packages. He talked to the meat mgr. and was told that the cyrovac meat comes in without needling (commercial term) they needle the meats to make them more tender. When my friend told the mgr. about the issue with e.coli on the surface being pushed into the interior of the meat he was told that is why their label says to cook to 165 deg. I will be waiting for a news story about e.coli problems with meat at Costco since no one will cook tri-tips etc. to 165 deg. My guess is that they have dropped their meat quality standards and are trying to get tender meats. Bad, bad, bad.

#8 Dana Myers

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:06 AM

View PostBill Bain, on 07 December 2012 - 08:20 AM, said:

Talked to a BBQ friend who was at Costco and he checked out the packages. He talked to the meat mgr. and was told that the cyrovac meat comes in without needling (commercial term) they needle the meats to make them more tender.

So, they ARE needling on-site!! One way to avoid this, I suppose, is get a cryovac pack of tri-tip. A bit more than I'm ready to cook or freeze.

Thanks, Bill!

#9 Dana Myers

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 10:35 AM

Heard from Costco today:


Dear Dana,


We appreciate you taking the time to email Costco Wholesale.


Most of our beef products are machine (blade) tenderized at the warehouse, and would only be labeled as such if that product has been tenderized.


Please let us know if there is anything else we can help you with.


Thank you,


Costco Wholesale Corporation


I responded with my concern about needless machine tenderization of tender cuts; perhaps all of us that are Costco members should take a minute to do so.

Dana

#10 Frank Smith

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 12:21 PM

I'll contact my Costco meat dept. manager. Does anyone know if Sam's has the same practice? RD is safe.

#11 Dana Myers

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:10 AM

More on this topic at this link. Blade tenderized/machine tenderized/needled all strike me as bad, unless you do it yourself after wiping down the exterior of the cut.

#12 Steve Aguilar

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 04:22 PM

View PostBill Bain, on 07 December 2012 - 08:20 AM, said:

Talked to a BBQ friend who was at Costco and he checked out the packages. He talked to the meat mgr. and was told that the cyrovac meat comes in without needling (commercial term) they needle the meats to make them more tender. When my friend told the mgr. about the issue with e.coli on the surface being pushed into the interior of the meat he was told that is why their label says to cook to 165 deg. I will be waiting for a news story about e.coli problems with meat at Costco since no one will cook tri-tips etc. to 165 deg. My guess is that they have dropped their meat quality standards and are trying to get tender meats. Bad, bad, bad.

FWIW, I used to work at a PriceCostco (old name) in Carlsbad, CA back in '96-'97. I spent the last few months there working in the meat dept. Even then they used to needle the meat in order to tenderize it. It was my duty then to clean the machine at the end of the evening. It appears as though little has changed since then.

#13 Tracy Allen

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 09:39 PM

As a Manager for Costco for over 20 years and a current manager in a "fresh food area" I can tell you that I spent several years inspecting the closing sanitization (SSOP's) nightly for all "fresh" departments. Those needles are Washed/Rinsed/Sanitized and inspected every night by a manager. Our cleaning standards are well above any other grocery type of industry I've ever been in contact with.
I can't tell you how many employees come to us from other "food" types of employment and are shocked at how much cleaning is required of their new Costco position. Most of them tell me horror stories about their previous jobs. Nothing I choose to repeat, but I can say that there are several grocery and pizza places that I won't buy from anymore!

#14 Scott Hares

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 11:00 PM

Cleanliness of the needling equipment is important for sure. But the big issue with needling is that the pathogens that live on the surface of meats stand a very real possibility of being pushed into the tender cut where they well never be cooked to a consumption safe level of 140+. In my opinion, this is a very dangerous practice for tender cuts and it must stop.

To be sure - this is not a Costco issue, this is a bigger practice issue. The practice of needling tender cuts is not safe for consumption when cooked correctly.

#15 Dana Myers

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 07:52 AM

So, I just cooked a two-pack of Costco Prime Tri-Tips. Guess what? I could clearly see the blade-marks on one of the pieces, plain as day, particularly where some thin silverskin was left. The other piece had no evidence of needling. Both pieces were tender, so arguably, needling isn't required for tri-tip.

I still cooked 'em both to the usual pinkish/130F-ish finished internal temperature. None of my dinner guests died from E. Coli (yet) but I do think twice about it.

I must say I am *really* surprised that the same litigation-conscious Costco that won't mount a 150MPH-rated tire on a Miata (because that model of Miata had "premium" 168MPH tires mounted at the factory), is happy to sell needled beef.

#16 Dale Ginos

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 08:36 PM

That's why I buy untrimmed and trim myself.




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