The U.K. Food Standards Agency (FSA) has announced a moratorium on the production of “desinewed meat” (DSM) from cattle, sheep and goats after the European Commission decided “that DSM does not comply with European Union [EU] single market legislation.” Produced using “a low pressure technique” to remove meat from bone but retain the structural integrity of the muscle fibers, DSM reportedly resembles “minced meat” and “is regarded as meat” by FSA.

Although the Commission evidently does not view DSM as a health concern, it reportedly threatened to ban U.K. meat exports unless FSA issued a moratorium and reworked legislation to comply with the EU definition of “mechanically separated meat” (MSM), that is, “the product obtained by removing meat from flesh bearing bones after boning or from poultry carcasses, using mechanical means resulting in the loss or modification of the muscle fibre structure.”

Meanwhile, the British Meat Processors’ Association (BMPA) has lambasted the Commission’s action as unnecessarily “ferocious” and likely to cost producers and consumers approximately £200 million in labelling changes, reformulated products and job losses. As BMPA explained in an April 5, 2012, press release, DSM differs from MSM in both production method and consistency, with the latter reduced to a “paste-like” texture after being separated from bone. “While acceding to the Commission’s demands, the Government and we hold that current practice in the UK is lawful. This product is not MSM. It is meat, and there are no food safety concerns in its usage,” said BMPA Director Stephen Rossides in defense of DSM. “This is a criminal waste of a valuable product at a time of a shortage of proteins, and when we are being urged to reduce food wastage. Common sense has gone out of the window . . . All this has happened at break-neck speed. The industry must be given more time to adjust to any change in requirements and market circumstances in a controlled and properly managed way in order to minimize market disruption and financial damage.”

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