Food Law News - UK - 1996
20 December 1996: MEAT PRODUCTS - Review of the Meat Products and Spreadable Fish Products Regulations 1984
MAFF Letter, 20 December 1996
Review of the Meat Products and Spreadable Fish Products Regulations 1984
The Ministry (MAFF) has issued a discussion paper on the review of the Meat Products and Spreadable Fish Products Regulations 1984. The declared aim of the review is to slim down and simplify the Regulations as far as possible retaining only those provisions which are considered essential to ensure consumer protection and to allow the consumer to make a free but informed choice wherever possible. This is part of the Government's commitment to review the Regulations as contained in the Government's Food Law Deregulation Plan (Autumn 1993) which initiated a process of revision, simplification and consolidation of food law to remove unnecessary burdens on business, improve competitiveness and increase consumer choice.
The discussion paper is 16 pages long and the following are the main points mentioned:
- Objectives: It is stated that: "The Government is anxious that compositional regulations should not contain too much detail or be unnecessarily prescriptive and is particularly concerned to avoid overlap or duplication with other legislation, for example on matters already covered by horizontal EC Directives (e.g. on labelling, including the new 'QUID' provisions, and on colours or additives). The Government therefore wishes to retain only such simplified provisions as are essential to ensure consumers are not defrauded or put at risk, or which may significantly help prevent public anxiety and confusion in relation to meat and meat products."
- Spreadable fish products: " ... in the absence of a clear need for specific regulations to cover these products, the Government proposes, in the interest of simplification and deregulation, to revoke those parts of the 1984 Regulations concerned with spreadable fish products."
- Definition of meat content: The paper discusses whether a revised definition of meat is needed. It then proposes the following revised definition "'meat' means striated muscle tissue, and may include the fat, skin, rind, gristle and sinew in amounts naturally attached to and closely associated with, or part of, the muscle used, of any animal or bird which is normally used for human consumption, and which includes any part of the carcase specified in Part 1 of Schedule 2 which is obtained from such animal or bird, but does not include any other part of the carcase."
- Declaration of Meat Content: The present requirement is likely to be retained although amended since they specify calculating meat content as a fraction of the final product weight, rather than on the basis of the inputs at the "mixing bowl" stage as required under 'QUID'.
- Added Water: The discussion paper appears to suggest that sufficient information will be available to consumers as a result of 'QUID'. It states "The Government would only wish to consider retaining a simplified requirement for added water declaration if the consumer would not be provided with adequate information by some other means."
- Lean Meat: The 1984 Regulations have a definition of "lean meat content". The Government has not yet come to a final view about the need to retain such a concept but three options are presented.
- Reserved Descriptions: The paper indicates that the Government is minded to revoke all but 3 of the present 20 reserved descriptions. The 3 remaining would be for "burger", "sausage" and "pie" but in all cases there would be a simplification of the requirements.
- Mechanically Recovered Meat (MRM): MRM is regarded as meat but it is already agreed that it should be separately declared in an ingredients list. A definition of MRM is proposed for inclusion in the revised Regulations: mechanically recovered meat means meat which has been obtained by mechanical means and had been passed through a fine mesh such that its cellular structure has been broken down and as such it flows in puree form.
The paper is for discussion but it indicates that new legislative proposals will be prepared for consultation in the first half of 1997 with a view to implementation by 1 January 1998.
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