The DSM ban is known to have driven up the price of meat powders by as much as euro 2/kg for manufacturers in the UK, which have moved to other sources since the ban came into effect earlier this year.
From April 28, meat processors have been banned from using DSM from ruminants such as cattle, sheep and goats. And, while it is still allowed for poultry and pork, since May 26 the product has to be labelled as mechanically separated meat (MSM). It can no longer count towards the total meat content of foods.
Premier Foods, which manufactures in the UK, has in the past used a powdered form of DSM in a very small number of products including dry soups, gravies and stuffing mixes, but has since switched to conventional meat sources, reported a spokesman. Although this is likely to have driven up costs, he said Premier was not prepared to comment.
“While they don’t like it, some companies have no option but to accept a higher price [for meat powders],” said a powdered meat industry source. These increased costs were unlikely to affect some manufacturers based in mainland Europe, which are still believed to be using DSM without labelling it as MSM, he claimed.
Since there are currently no scientific tests capable of differentiating DSM from other forms of protein, imported products containing DSM such as chicken and pork burgers, sausages and pies – but also soups and sauces – are unlikely to be detected by border authorities, the source claimed.
Unilever and Nestlé, which have plants on the Continent that have made use of powdered meat to manufacture products, were unavailable for comment about their response to the DSM ban and whether this was driving up their costs as they sought alternative sources of powdered meat.
Henningsen Foods, a supplier of powdered meats with production facilities in The Netherlands, did not respond to a request for information about the effects of the DSM ban on its business.
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) and British Poultry Council (BPC) have both called for more action from the UK government to get the DSM ban overturned.
They welcomed a recent report from the parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, which found “serious flaws” in the UK government’s approach to the ban. The Committee also pointed out the fact that regulators had identified no health risks associated with the use of DSM.
The BPC claimed the ban on the use of DSM – a low-pressure technique of separating meat from bones – would cost British poultry companies up to £100M. The BMPA reckoned the total cost to the UK’s meat processing sector would be as high as £200M.
BMPA director Stephen Rossides has called on the government to canvass the support of other EU Member States in pressing the European Commission to lift the DSM ban.
However, this is unlikely to meet with much success, suggested the source. “I’m sure some other countries in the EU would like an even wider ban on the use of non-muscle meat,” he said.