Newby Foods ruling ignites debate

A legal victory favouring Newby Foods, exempting its pig and poultry meat preparations from UK restrictions on desinewed meat (DSM), has sparked debate about its implications. 

The high court verdict follows the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) 2012 ban on desinewed meat (DSM) from cows, sheep and goats. The FSA further required pig and poultry DSM to be labelled as mechanically separated meat (MSM), separate from any other meat content.

DSM is meat recovered from bones using low-pressure processing techniques and used as a cheaper ingredient in meat products. In addition, MSM was lampooned by consumers as ‘pink slime’. As a result, the meat industry widely condemned the FSA’s decision as wasteful and unnecessarily negative.

Speaking after the latest ruling, British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) chairman Peter Mitchell said he believed it had wider implications. “I am delighted to hear this landmark ruling which recognises the full value of the technological advances that Newby Foods have made in order to produce meat products that should rightly count towards the meat content of food products.

“This opens the way to opportunities to make full use of this meat and reduce food waste which is clearly a benefit to both the industry and wider society.

Graham Bishop, md of Newby Foods, a BMPA member, in turn celebrated the ruling. “We are grateful that common sense has, at last, prevailed and we can get on with what we have always done best - providing the industry with good quality meat products.”

“We are delighted that our process can now fulfil its potential in terms of value for our customers and suppliers. It would be a travesty in a world that faces an ever increasing shortage of protein for our raw materials to be relegated or wasted.”

However, a spokesman for the FSA told Meat Trades Journal he believed the outcome only applied to Newby Foods and did not have broader ramifications.

In a statement, the FSA said: “The FSA has noted the decision of the High Court that Newby Foods’ products produced from poultry and pigs are not MSM and is considering the implications of the judgement.

“The FSA notes in particular that the High Court has not ruled that the moratorium, introduced by the FSA in 2012 on the production and use of DSM, was unlawful in its wider application.”

The finding was achieved within the framework of a Judgement by the European Court Of Justice on October 16, 2014, which is the legal interpretation of regulation 853/2004. It marks the end of a four-year dispute.

Newby Foods was established in 2003. Operating from a dedicated, fully licensed 6,500m2 factory on the outskirts of Newby Wiske, North Yorkshire, the business employs 65 people.

Its pork and poultry meat preparations are used as ingredients in products such as sausages, sausage rolls, hot dogs, meatballs and other formed products. The company sources materials used in this way from industry recognised, major UK slaughterhouses.

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