Moratorium on desinewed meat

The UK has been required to re-classify the process by which a very small part of its meat processing industry removes meat from animal bones.

The European Commission has asked that a moratorium is put in place on the production of 'desinewed meat' (DSM) from cattle, sheep and goats. Desinewed meat is produced using a low pressure technique to remove meat from animal bones. The product closely resembles minced meat, is currently a meat preparation and is regarded as meat.

DSM has been produced in the UK since the mid-1990s. UK producers have told us that DSM is also exported by other EU countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

The Food Standards Agency (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 European Commission has informed us today they do not consider this to be an identified public health concern.

However, the European Commission has decided that DSM does not comply with European Union single market legislation and has therefore required the UK to impose a moratorium on producing DSM from the bones of cattle, sheep and goats by the end of April. If the UK were not to comply with the Commission’s ruling it would risk a ban on the export of UK meat products, which would have a devastating impact on the UK food industry.

DSM may still be produced from poultry and pig bones but from the end of May it must be classed and specifically labelled as 'Mechanically Separated Meat' (MSM), and can no longer count towards the meat content of a product.

* This content has been updated since original publication.