A technique used in the UK to remove meat from animal bones is to be banned this month following a moratorium by the European Commission, it was announced today.
The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it had agreed to the moratorium but stressed there was no evidence of any risk to human health from eating cow and sheep meat produced from the low-pressure 'Desinewed Meat' (DSM) removal technique.
The FSA said a "very small part" of the UK's meat processing industry used the DSM technique to remove meat from animal bones, with the product closely resembling minced meat.
The FSA said the DSM process had been used in the UK since the mid 1990s, and local producers had reported that DSM meat was also exported by other EU countries such as Germany, Holland and Spain.
The agency said in a statement: "The FSA is clear that there is no evidence of any risk to human health from eating meat produced from the low-pressure DSM technique. There is no greater risk from eating this sort of produce than any other piece of meat or meat product. The EU Commission has informed us today they do not consider this to be an identified public health concern."
The FSA said the EC had decided that DSM did not comply with EU single market legislation and had therefore required the UK to impose a moratorium on producing meat products from the bones of cows and sheep using DSM by the end of April.
The FSA added: "If the UK were not to comply with the Commission's ruling it would risk a ban on the export of UK meat products which would have a devastating impact on the UK food industry."
The DSM process can still be used to remove meat from poultry and pigs but must now be classed and specifically labelled as 'Mechanically Separated Meat' (MSM), and not simply as 'meat'.