A recall on Christmas Eve of almost a quarter million pounds of beef has focused attention not only on the beef, but on the process of mechanically tenderizing the meat. 248,000 pounds of beef products were recalled by the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service from National Steak and Poultry, which is based in Oklahoma, on December 24. The mechanically tenderized products were linked to an E. coli outbreak across 16 states. There were 21 cases, requiring several hospitalizations, but so far no deaths have been reported.

What exactly is mechanical tenderization? Also called “needling,” it's the process of poking hundreds of needles into larger and tougher cuts of meat in order to break down the muscle fibers. Sounds terribly medieval. So how about instead of buying meat that's already been tenderized, why not do it yourself? You can tenderize your own T-bone steaks with far fewer health risks–plus it's probably the equivalent to some seriously expensive therapy. Use a hammer, or a cat o' nine tails if you've got one lying around, or make your own bed of nails. A “good school project,” says this DIY site, requiring about 12 hours and under $200, depending on what's already in your garage. Good for steaks, meditation, and, well, whatever New Years' resolutions you may have in the therapy department. What kind of therapy is your business.

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