10/26/2012 10:12 EDT | Updated 12/26/2012 05:12 EST

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says labels being talked about for tenderized beef

REGINA - Canada's agriculture minister says federal officials are looking at issues surrounding mechanically tenderized meat in the wake of a massive E. coli-related beef recall from Alberta's XL Foods.

Gerry Ritz was in Regina on Friday and reporters asked him about the process, in which lesser cuts of steak are pressed with steel blades and needles to make them tender.

That could potentially push E. coli into the centre of the steak, which often isn't cooked completely.

Ritz allows there is talk in both the U.S. and Canada about putting a label on such products.

He says such a label would warn people "that if you're buying this tenderized product at a lesser price, because it's a lesser cut of meat that's been tenderized, that it should be labelled to warn you to cook it beyond the temperature that's required."

Ritz says that would be up to Health Canada, not the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

"But certainly they take it seriously and they're working toward that end," he said. "I know in Alberta, the Alberta public health agency has actually outlawed it until they have a better look at it."

The CFIA restored the XL plant's operating licence this week and also launched a review of the E. coli crisis that made at least 16 people ill.

Management of the plant in Brooks, Alta., has been taken over by JBS USA, an American subsidiary of a Brazilian company.

JBS USA has not yet decided if it will exercise its option to buy the plant.

Production is expected to begin again on Monday.