According to the court, Doux’s Quimper plant in Brittany prepared and sold 1,282 packs of MSM-based chicken sausages, labelled ‘salt meat’, between 1 January 2009 and 1 April 2011, which constitutes an offence under EU law. The products were destined to school and care home canteens, as well as the export market.
MSM, a sort of paste obtained by putting deboned carcases under high pressure to separate bones from the last of the edible meat, is not recognised as meat by the European Commission, which argues that the product is not perceived as meat by consumers. In its 2003 labelling directive, the Commission stated that the definition of meat “does not include mechanically separated meat”, which has to be labelled separately and “cannot form part of the meat content of any product in which is occurs”.
The poultry company released a statement saying: “The issue of labelling between ‘meat’ and ‘MSM’ is a technical topic that is still being debated between the French authorities and the European Commission. Discussions are currently taking place on the topic and, to this day, the European Commission hasn’t come to a decision.”
A hearing was originally scheduled on 2 February, but has been postponed to 5 July 2012.
Doux is the leading poultry processor and exporter in France, manufacturing products under a number of brands including Père Dodu, LeBon and Frangosul. The Quimper plant, built in 1992, received Global Standard for Food Safety from the British Retail Consortium in 2003, and the International Food Standard in 2006.