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Beef Retailers Now Labeling Mechanically Tenderized Beef

Food Safety for Mechanically Tenderized Beef infographic

Beginning this week, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service started requiring meat processors to properly label beef products that have been mechanically tenderized. The new label also provides customers with cooking instructions for safe handling of these products. (Click to view a larger version)

This summer and grilling season – which unofficially kicks off in less than two weeks with Memorial Day weekend – American shoppers will see an important new label on some steak packages. Beginning May 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service started requiring meat processors to disclose a common practice known as mechanical tenderization and provide safe cooking instructions so their customers know to handle these products carefully.

Product tenderness is a key selling point for beef products. To increase tenderness, some cuts of beef are tenderized mechanically by piercing them with needles or small blades in order to break up tissue. This process takes place before the beef is packaged but can also occur at the grocery store’s butcher counter, at a restaurant, or in the home. The blades or needles can introduce pathogens from the surface of the beef to the interior, making proper cooking very important. However, mechanically tenderized products look no different than product that has not been treated this way, so without disclosure on the label, consumers may not know about this higher food safety risk. Read more »

Adaptation Resources for Agriculture in the Midwest and Northeast

Organic farmer on his computer

Organic farmer on his computer accessing information regarding climate conditions. USDA photo

All this month we will be taking a look at what a changing climate means to Agriculture. The ten regional USDA Climate Hubs were established to synthesize and translate climate science and research into easily understood products and tools that land managers can use to make climate-informed decisions. The Hubs work at the regional level with an extensive network of trusted USDA agency partners, technical service providers, University collaborators, and private sector advisers to ensure they have the information they need to respond to producers that are dealing with the effects of a variable climate. USDA’s Climate Hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions, so that our agricultural leaders have the modern technologies and tools they need to adapt and succeed in the face of a changing climate. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Dr. Cathy Kling

Dr. Cathy Kling

Dr. Cathy Kling, a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a professor of economics at Iowa State University.

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. This month, we hear from Dr. Cathy Kling, a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a professor of economics at Iowa State University. She has served as the director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) since July 2013. She received a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from the University of Iowa and a doctorate in economics from the University of Maryland. In 2015, she became the first female ISU faculty member named to the National Academy of Sciences. In her work at CARD, Kling is undertaking research to examine how agricultural practices affect water quality, wildlife, soil carbon content, and greenhouse gases.

How did you first become interested in studying economics? What drove you to explore agriculture in particular?

I took an undergraduate economics class as a sophomore in college. Within a few weeks I had changed my major to economics and by the end of the semester I had decided to go to graduate school to study more about this amazing field. I didn’t begin my work in agricultural economics for many years, and my interest in agriculture stem largely from my primary interest in environmental issues.  I consider myself an environmental economist with strong interest in agricultural issues related to the environment. Read more »

Local and Organic Food Shopping – Finding the Best Price

Local Certified Organic Produce Prices bar chart

A bar chart showing pricing comparisons for common organic and farmers market vegetables. Visit agriculture.vermont.gov/localfooddatatracking for the full report from agriculture.vermont.gov.

When comparing product prices between farmers markets and retail stores, local products are competitively priced – within a 10 percent price range – at farmers markets a majority of the time, even less expensive for some foods.  Local, certified organic products at farmers markets are almost always competitively priced when compared to prices at retail stores.

These are just some of the findings from a recent project conducted by the Local Foods Data Tracking Program, a joint effort between USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Market News division and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets (VAAFM).  Prices were collected on a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as a selection of meat and poultry products grown and sold in Vermont. Read more »

“Climate Change and the Water Cycle” – USDA’s Southwest Climate Hub Launches Education Unit for 6-12th Graders

Students participating in a “Climate Change and the Water Cycle” module exercise

Students participate in a “Climate Change and the Water Cycle” module exercise. Photo from the Asombro Institute for Science Education home of the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park

All this month we will be taking a look at what a changing climate means to Agriculture. The ten regional USDA Climate Hubs were established to synthesize and translate climate science and research into easily understood products and tools that land managers can use to make climate-informed decisions. The Hubs work at the regional level with an extensive network of trusted USDA agency partners, technical service providers, University collaborators, and private sector advisers to ensure they have the information they need to respond to producers that are dealing with the effects of a variable climate. USDA’s Climate Hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions, so that our agricultural leaders have the modern technologies and tools they need to adapt and succeed in the face of a changing climate.

USDA has created a curriculum for teaching today’s students about climate change and educating tomorrow’s farmers, ranchers, and decision makers.  The Department’s Southwest Regional Climate Hub has partnered with the Asombro Institute for Science education to build “Climate Change and the Water Cycle,” a scientifically rigorous education unit for 6th -12th grade students.  Intended for both formal and informal educators, the unit includes 9 activities which can either stand alone or be taught over 10 instruction hours.  These hands-on activities are designed to help the students understand the scientific concepts behind different elements of the water cycle, climate change, and how to analyze data and communicate results.  Here’s a list of the activities: Read more »

USDA Partners With the Department Of Defense to Fight Climate Change

A natural cycle of the Earth's climate

The climate change science and modeling education module explaining natural cycles of the Earth’s climate. Image by the USDA Forest Service Climate Change Resource Center

All this month we will be taking a look at what a changing climate means to Agriculture.  The ten regional USDA Climate Hubs were established to synthesize and translate climate science and research into easily understood products and tools that land managers can use to make climate-informed decisions.  The Hubs work at the regional level with an extensive network of trusted USDA agency partners, technical service providers, University collaborators, and private sector advisers to ensure they have the information they need to respond to producers that are dealing with the effects of a variable climate.  USDA’s Climate Hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions, so that our agricultural leaders have the modern technologies and tools they need to adapt and succeed in the face of a changing climate.

The Department of Agriculture and Department of Defense have an extensive relationship coordinating land management activities, and are now working together to cope with the pressures of climate change.  The USDA Forest Service Climate Change Resource Center (CCRC) and the USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub (NFCH) are partnering with the Department of Defense (DoD) to present information on climate change and ecosystem response during environmental and natural resource training courses to better enable DoD mission success through practical approaches to climate adaptation. Read more »