Food Law News - EU - 2000

FSA Letter, 26 July 2000

LABELLING - Definition of The Term "Meat" For The Purposes of QUID Declaration and Ingredient Listing

The letter seeks views on a draft discussion document, prepared by the European Commission, which proposes a definition of "meat" for the purposes of food labelling and makes consequential proposals relating to QUID declarations, and ingredient listing, for products containing meat.

The draft discussion document proposes a definition for "meat" that is intended only for the purposes of labelling products containing meat (e.g. for ingredient listing and as the basis for QUID declarations). Basically, it is proposed that the term "meat" only be used to describe skeletal muscle (Part I of the Annex), with limits being placed on the amount of fat and connective tissue that can be included (Part II of the Annex). The figure for "connective tissue" probably refers to the percentage of collagen in fat-free meat protein. The proposed definition would be considerably tighter than the existing definition of "meat" in the Meat Products and Spreadable Fish Products Regulations 1984 (as amended). If it is agreed, there will need to be a consequential examination of the reserved descriptions of meat products in those Regulations.

A supplementary definition, "meat co-products", is also proposed, which would cover mechanically recovered meat (MRM) and any other animal parts considered suitable for human consumption which were not covered by the definition of "meat".

For the purposes of ingredient listing, the indications "meat" and "meat co-product" would need to include reference to the relevant species from which they had been derived. Alternatively, the term "meat co-product" may be replaced by the specific name of the product (e.g. "Iamb's liver"). MRM would continue to need to be identified separately, as described in MAFF's letter to all interested parties dated 12 May 1997. It is not clear whether it is also the intention that all "meat" and all "meat co-product" ingredients would be grouped under these headings and identified by those terms in the list of ingredients (e.g. "meat (beef, pork, lamb, chicken)" or "meat co-products (mechanically recovered beef, pork and lamb)").

For the purposes of QUID, it is proposed that products containing a mixture of meats from more than one species should give declarations for each of the species used in the ingredient list. It is not clear whether it would be acceptable, as an alternative, to give a QUID declaration for the total meat, plus any of the meats specifically mentioned in the name of the food (eg a "pork sausage" containing pork, chicken and beef would give a QUID declaration for the total meat and the pork rather than separate declarations for the pork, the chicken and the beef).

The FSA is not sure when this document is likely to be discussed in Brussels, but it is possible there could be a meeting in September.

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