Here on the eve of the Commission’s draconian measure of a moratorium on desinewed meat it may be time to openly admit what we knew all along: desinewed meat never really actually existed. Only from a legislative perspective of course. From the viewpoints of commerce, practicality, and trade most of Europe have been quite merrily using it for years.
The output from low pressure recovery is dramatically different from its high pressure cousin, and so desinewed meat was recognised by member states and their industries in an effort have a clear identification for a valuable material. Here in the UK it became, in EU nomenclature, a meat preparation. Thereby allowing its use in products in the same way that minced meat is used.
This is an example of when technology, business practice, and consumer preference has overtaken the legislation. Poultry processing is a highly automated business, where mechanical means have supplanted a worker with a knife in butchery terms. This has now been recognised to a certain extent by the Commission where mechanical processes are now acknowledged as part of the boning procedure and therefore have an output that is meat.
But there still remains a proportion of low pressure recovery covered by this moratorium. Product that will shortly be MSM, with no meat content and labelling requirements; but still entirely different to what we understand to be MSM. Moreover, a product that is different to what we feel the legislation was designed to cover. So we need to gather the scientific evidence, be involved with the Commission and EFSA, and encourage the legislative process towards recognising that difference.
Poultry hasn’t come out of this period as badly off as other sectors. Certainly other sectors have been hit with crushing costs, all at a time when we should be as efficient as possible with the livestock we have. There have been unconscionable costs to industry and consumers, for want of one sentence of text defining this product.
Could this whole episode have been handled differently? By industry? By regulators? By Government? As has been suggested in parliamentary committee could the UK simply have said ‘no’ to the Commission? Perhaps. But we should certainly question why an exercise in semantics can cost £200 million.
Desinewed meat? It doesn’t exist.