Meat industry leaders are seeking a meeting with the European Commission in Brussels to press the case for Europe's mince regulations to be adapted in line with UK production and consumption practices.
Following the so-called 'Mince Summit' held in London this morning it was agreed that a delegation of industry representatives, from across the entire meat chain, should discuss the UK's case with Commission officials.
The delegation's key objective would be to spell out the difference between the regulatory requirements of 'ready-to-eat' minced meat, which could be eaten partially cooked or even raw, and the traditional UK minced meat product which is cooked thoroughly before consumption. Once this discussion has taken place, the Food Standards Agency, which was represented at today's summit, will progress the UK's requirement for a regulatory change, through Commission groups.
"In preparation for the Brussels meeting, we've all agreed to gather fresh data on the production volumes and values attached to the UK mince sector," said Ian Anderson, executive manager of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers. "We will also be gathering information on the mirco-biological standards which are already applied in UK meat plants to show that the production of mince for cooking is already being produced under extremely safe and high quality procedures.
Anderson said it was also agreed yesterday that the case the meat industry will be bringing to Brussels must be judged entirely on science-based principles and not on how minced meat may be used in other EU countries."
Under present EU regulatory proposals, minced meat would have to be used according to a restricted time limit, a requirement which is deemed to be unnecessary for meat which is destined to be cooked thoroughly. If the time limit is allowed to stand, however, it will seriously reduce the amount of meat which can be used in the UK for mince production, a sector of the market which currently accounts for around 40% of all red meat production.