EP: Question for written answer - Subject: Mechanically separated meat

13 September 2018
Question for written answer E-004629-18
to the Commission
Rule 130
Piernicola Pedicini (EFDD) , Isabella Adinolfi (EFDD)

‘Mechanically separated meat’ (MSM) is ‘a product obtained by removing meat from flesh-bearing bones after deboning or from poultry carcases by mechanical means’. It is used in the production of chicken hot dogs, fillings for tortellini, ready-made chicken dishes such as cutlets and croquettes, lasagne, etc.
Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 distinguishes between ‘high’ and ‘low’ pressure MSM based on alterations in bone structure and calcium content. The current labelling provisions do not require the manufacturer to specify the method of production. However, high pressure MSM causes greater destruction of muscle fibres and promotes bacterial development.
With a view to promoting responsible consumption, can the Commission say:
1.Whether it intends to introduce a requirement to declare on the label whether MSM was obtained at high or low pressure?
2.Given that technological progress in the field of meat preparation has led to the creation of products which are very similar to minced meat, will the Commission set a minimum threshold for calcium content above which these products are to be classed as MSM?
3.Does it intend to update the report of 23 September 2015 on the state of implementation of Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 with regard to MSM, given that it has already identified significant shortcomings?


Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis
on behalf of the European Commission
1. The Commission is not foreseeing a modification of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers[1], for declaring on the label whether mechanically separated meat (MSM) was obtained by low or high pressure treatment. The Commission considers that the obligation to label the use of any MSM should be maintained to ensure that consumers are informed about the use of MSM in general. In addition, the Commission does not support a differentiation of labelling provisions for low and high pressure MSM. Therefore, the Commission is of the opinion that the current labelling provisions are appropriate and should not be changed.

2. As regards the calcium content, the Commission established in Annex IV to Regulation (EC) No 2074/2005[2] the calcium content of MSM as referred to in Regulation (EC) No 853/2004[3]. Annex III, Section V, Chapter III, points 3 and 4 of Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 differentiate between the production and use of high pressure MSM, and low pressure MSM where its calcium content is not significantly higher than that of minced meat (meeting the requirements of Annex IV to Regulation (EC) No 2074/2005). The criteria to differentiate MSM from minced meat are established in their respective definitions in Regulation (EC) No 853/2004.

3. Following the judgement of the European Court of Justice in Case C-453/13[4] of 16 October 2014, the Commission invited all Member States to take all necessary actions to enforce the legislation on MSM in line with the ruling and to ensure that MSM is properly labelled when placed on the market. No update of the report on the implementation of the Regulation 853/2004 as regards MSM is envisaged.

[1]     OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 18–63.
[2]     Commission Regulation (EC) No 2074/2005 of 5 December 2005 laying down implementing measures for certain products under Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council and for the organisation of official controls under Regulation (EC) No 854/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, derogating from Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council and amending Regulations (EC) No 853/2004 and (EC) No 854/2004, OJ L 338, 22.12.2005, p. 27–59.
[3]     Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin, OJ L 139, 30.4.2004, p. 55–205.
[4]     https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A62013CA0453