UK processors reject EU ban on ‘desinewed meat’

By Melodie Michel

- Last updated on GMT

UK processors reject EU ban on ‘desinewed meat’

Related tags European union Beef Lamb Pork Poultry

The British Meat Processors’ Association (BMPA) has criticised the European Commission’s ban on ‘desinewed meat’ (DSM), a product obtained using low pressure to separate meat from bones, calling it “a criminal waste of a valuable product”.

By 28 April, British processors will not be allowed to produce DSM from ruminant bones, and DSM from non-ruminant bones will have to be labelled ‘mechanically separated meat’ (MSM), which is not officially considered ‘meat’ in the EU, as it usually refers to a product obtained using a high-pressure technique that breaks down the muscle’s fibre structure. According to the BMPA, the move could cost the UK food industry £200m.

The UK Food Standards Authority (FSA) imposed the moratorium after the Commission threatened to ban UK exports of meat products if it refused to do so, but reiterated its safety. “The FSA is clear that there is no evidence of any risk to human health from eating meat produced from the low-pressure DSM technique. There is no greater risk from eating this sort of produce than any other piece of meat or meat product,”​ the Agency said.

It added that the Commission had informed the UK that it did not consider DSM to be a public health concern, prompting the BMPA to question the reasons behind the decision. “Why​ [the Commission] is being so ferocious is a mystery. It just jumped on the UK like a ton of bricks and asked us to change the legislation without giving us time to breathe,​ [even though it] recognises there is no safety issue,”​ BMPA director Stephen Rossides told GlobalMeatNews.

He added that although the Commission includes DSM in the MSM definition, the UK and many other member states believe that there should be another definition for DSM, as it retains the muscle’s fibre structure. “This product is not MSM. It is meat, and there are no food safety concerns in its usage. It’s like when you detach meat from the bone manually to make a sandwich from the leftovers of a roast,”​ he said.

The FSA admitted that there was “a variety of interpretations of the regulations across Europe”​, but said neither DSM nor MSM were produced using the same technique as lean finely textured beef (LFTB) in the US, and that the Commission’s decision was therefore not related to the ‘pink slime’ scandal.

“This issue has nothing to do with recent reports in the media about ‘pink slime’, a beef-based food additive used in the US as a filler in minced beef. This product is not permitted in the EU and is not obtained by the same processes as MSM or DSM,”​ an FSA spokesperson told GlobalMeatNews.

The BMPA asked the UK government to defend the country’s interpretation and practices, and said processors needed more time to adjust to any changes in legislation.

Other member states might be affected by the decision, as British processors reported importing DSM from other European countries. “But we never know what’s going on in other member states, so maybe they call it MSM in their own country,”​ added Rossides.

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