Landmark fresh meat ruling for Newby Foods

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Meat processor Newby Foods, based near Northallerton, has won a landmark legal ruling over MSM
Meat processor Newby Foods, based near Northallerton, has won a landmark legal ruling over MSM

Related tags: Meat, Meat products

A landmark judgement, handed down last month by the High Court in favour of meat processor Newby Foods, confirms that meat processed by the company’s novel methods can be classified as fresh meat, and not mechanically separated meat (MSM).

The judgement also found that the decision of April 4 2012 by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on Newby’s process following the EU's moratorium on desinewed meat (DSM) was wrong since it was based on an error of law.

The ruling opens up the possibility for other DSM products to be labelled as meat products. The UK meat processing industry has long argued for poultry meat recovered under low pressure processing techniques, which it claimed was very different to MSM and of similar consistency to mince, to be classified as fresh meat.

“We are grateful that common sense has, at last, prevailed and we can get on with what we have always done best providing the industry with good quality meat products,”​ said Graham Bishop, md of Newby Foods.

‘Common sense has prevailed’

The finding has been achieved within the framework of the judgement by the European Court Of Justice dated October 16 2014, which is the legal interpretation of regulation 853/2004 that industry has to work within.

“We are delighted that our process can now fulfil its potential in terms of value for our customers and suppliers,” said Bishop. “It would be a travesty in a world that faces an ever increasing shortage of protein for our raw materials to be relegated or wasted.”

Speaking after the ruling, British Meat Processors Association chairman Peter Mitchell said: “I am delighted to hear this landmark ruling. It recognises the full value of the technological advances that Newby Foods has made in order to produce meat products that should rightly count towards the meat content of food products.

“This opens the way to opportunities to make full use of this meat and reduce food waste, which is clearly a benefit to both the industry and wider society.”

10,000t meat a year

Newby Foods, formed in June 2003 and operating out of a 6,500m2​ factory near Newby Wiske, in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, had been harvesting around 10,000t meat a year from selected pork, beef and lamb bones and chicken carcases after primary boning. Newby's processed meat had been used by the food industry to make products such as sausages, burgers and meatballs.

Until 2012, the company had been allowed to declare its products as meat. However, on April 4 the FSA accepted the European Commission’s ruling that MSM could not be used as part of a product's meat content. It prevented Newby Foods from producing beef and lamb products and devalued those derived from pork and chicken.

Newby Foods currently employs 65 people, but in 2012 was forced to make 30 workers redundant and feared that unless the ruling was changed, its remaining staff would also have to go.

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