Newby Foods loses long-running legal battle on MSM

Northallerton meat processor Newby Foods has lost a long-running court battle in which it fought for its products to be classified as a meat preparation.

The firm uses a low-pressure mechanical method of removing meat from butchered bones. It is then pressed through small holes, removing any bone, gristle or sinew, and was originally allowed to be labelled as ‘desinewed meat’.

However the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled yesterday (16 October), that the product it produces must be classified as ‘mechanically separated meat’ (MSM) – which has a significantly lower value attached to it.

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said the ruling was “extremely disappointing”.

Unlike a meat preparation, MSM does not count towards the meat content of a product, which would have to be labelled as containing MSM.

Stephen Rossides, director, BMPA, said: “This is a very disappointing ruling, and fails to recognise the technological advances that have enabled the ability to produce, by low-pressure mechanical means, a product that is very similar to minced meat.”

“As such, this product should count towards the meat content of food products and should not have to be labelled. This would deliver a higher commercial value to this product and also reduce food waste.”

He added that the Association would have to consider the implication of this ruling in more detail.

In April 2012, the Food Standards Agency imposed a moratorium on Newby Foods producing desinewed meat from beef and lamb bones, and also reclassified its poultry and pigmeat as MSM, which the firm claimed lost it £720,000 in the first six weeks.

The dispute was subsequently referred to the ECJ. However, in lieu of a decision, a High Court Judge in the UK allowed Newby Foods to sell 51 tonnes of desinewed lamb from its cold store for use in cat and dog food, and also ruled it could continue to sell its poultry and pigmeats as meat preparations, until a definitive ruling was given by the ECJ.

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