The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) backed the creation of desinewed meat (DSM) as a product category despite it being 'non-existent in EU legislation', a European Commission (EC) report has claimed.
DSM is manufactured using a low pressure technique which removes scraps of meat from bones.
According to the EC’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) report, the creation of this ‘category’ – backed by UK competent authorities (CA) including the FSA - led to “major non-conformities” such as the use of ruminant’s bones for the production of mechanically separated meat (MSM).
According to the FVO, this effectively breached the safeguards put in place to guard against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
The report, which is based on the findings of a March 2012 FVO audit, was ordered to evaluate the control systems in place governing the production of MSM.
In April 2012, the FSA issued a moratorium on DSM, which ruled that it could no longer be produced in the UK using cattle, sheep and goat bones. It may still be produced using poultry and pig bones, but it must be specifically labelled as MSM.
The report deals a fresh blow to British hopes of convincing the European Commission (EC) to change its stance on the manufacture and use of DSM.
“The official controls implemented by the UK CAs do not guarantee that the EU requirements applicable to the production of MSM are respected,” said the FVO report.
“The creation of a product category, non-existent in current EU legislation, called ‘desinewed meat’ with the backing of UK CAs has led to a major non-conformities such as the use of ruminants’ bones for the production of MSM, the production of MSM without respecting all EU requirements and the placing on the market of products incorporating MSM without identifying it on the label.”
“The CA incorrectly considers desinewed meat as meat preparation,” the FVO report added.
The report has been welcomed by UK-based sausage manufacturer Kevin McWhinney, who has vehemently opposed the use of DSM for the past decade.
“This report verifies what I have been saying for a long time,” said McWhinney. “The manufacture and use of DSM contravenes EU bans brought in because of the BSE crisis in the UK. The FSA basically made up a new definition for the product in order to sneak it through the net.”
“It wouldn’t be banned if it wasn’t dangerous. We cannot take a risk with this product,” added McWhinney.
Disagree with EU
The FVO report represents a setback to the hopes of many meat processing sector stakeholders of convincing the EC to reverse its decision on DSM.
Last month, a report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) urged the UK government to make “every possible effort” to persuade the European Commission (EC) to reverse its decision on DSM.
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) welcomed the July 2012 EFRA report.
Commenting on the FVO report, BMPA director Stephen Rossides told FoodProductionDaily.com: “As the UK government’s comments on the report highlight, the UK authorities disagree with the FVO interpretation. We do not accept the EU view that we are in breach of EU legislation.”