Newby Foods celebrates high court vindication

Newby Foods aims to win back millions of pounds in lost business after a high court victory exempting it from Food Standards Agency (FSA) restrictions on desinewed meat (DSM) and mechanically separated meat (MSM). 

In 2012, the FSA banned DSM from cows, sheep and goats in the UK. It further required pig and poultry DSM to be labelled as mechanically separated meat (MSM), distinct from other meat content. The decision followed pressure from the European Commission (EC), which claimed UK DSM production flouted EU single market legislation.

Manufacturers producing DSM at the time of the so-called moratorium represented only a small proportion of the total UK meat industry. However, the British Meat Processors Association still claimed the move would cost the sector £200m in cancelled business and hundreds of jobs.

Newby Foods argued the process it used did not fall under the EC’s definition of DSM or MSM, so should not be subject to the FSA’s restrictions. Building on a European Court of Justice judgment in 2014, Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart ruled in favour of Newby Foods earlier this week in the high court.

Speaking exclusively to Meat Trades Journal, Newby Foods md Graham Bishop said the company was forced to let 35 people go in the wake of the FSA’s 2012 pronouncement as trade slumped. “We are delighted that after four years of litigation, common sense has prevailed … We are trying to get the business back. It will happen.”

Bishop stressed the case hinged on the fact that the meat Newby Foods produced was no different from standard minced meat, as it consisted of intact muscle fibre removed from bones. It could therefore be included as total meat content on the labels of products such as sausage rolls, hot dogs or meat balls.

Such meat would otherwise either by binned or be used for purposes such as rendering or gelatin production. “The high court judge said why should this raw material be relegated to something it shouldn’t be relegated to,” said Bishop. “The only mistake that meat has made has been to be on the wrong side of the knife during production.”

Newby Foods’ turnover was more than halved as a result of the FSA’s moratorium. “We would hope we could get that business back. We had a whole raft of suppliers and customers. We have a handful today.”

He called on the FSA to generate guidelines that would distinguish the company’s process from that of others producing lower quality DSM or MSM. Once guidelines were in place, other companies in the industry could derive revenue from a similar process to that used by Newby Foods, he said.

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