Three steak house chains have pulled chuck steak from their menus yesterday amid public concerns that the meat is prone to bacteria contamination if not cooked properly and questions about how they are labeled.
\nMidrange steakhouses Tasty, Tao Ban House and Noble Family Steak House decided to stop selling chuck steak after they were accused by Chinese-language media yesterday of cheating consumers by advertising "restructured meat" as steaks on their menus.
\n"Since so many people are concerned about our beef's safety, we'll withdraw the products until they pass the health authorities' examination," said Lobo Lee (李森斌), general manager of Wang Group, which owns 13 Tasty and 10 Tao Ban House outlets nationwide.
\nLee argued that his company's products are "pressed" -- but not restructured by dicing -- to form the shape of a steak after they have been processed to have tendons removed and soybean protein added to hold the meat together.
\nLin Shih-chin (林士欽), chairman of the 180-outlet Noble Family, echoed Lee, saying that the processing makes the meat easy to chew without destroying its nutritional composition.
\nThe negative news reports had not affected business so far, the restaurants said.
\nRestructured ham or other food products have long been available in supermarkets in the West, offering customers an alternative to more expensive meat products.
\nBut restaurant operators sometimes cheat consumers by not providing accurate information about their products, said Chen Lu-hung (陳陸宏), director of the Department of Health's Food Safety Bureau.
\nHe urged the public not to panic over pressed or restructured meat as long as operators do not violate the regulations stipulated in the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法). Chen said the health department is not aware of any food poisoning cases caused by these beef products. But he nonetheless cautioned that that all foodstuffs must be cooked well.
\nCheng Jen-hung (
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