EFSA: high pressure production risks contamination for some mechanically separated meats

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

High pressure production risk for mechanically separated meats

Related tags Meat Livestock

High pressure production of mechanically separated meat (MSM) from pigs and poultry increases the risk of it becoming contaminated with germs, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

High pressure treatment involves pressing the carcass or meat parts through a machine-like sieve and is used to produce paste-like meat, which is used in hot dogs, for example.

"In fact these processes result in greater muscle fibre degradation and an associated release of nutrients which provide a favourable substrate for bacterial growth,"​ state the EFSA scientists.

However, aside from the high pressure issue, the opinion concludes that the microbiological risk posed by MSM is no different to that posed by non-MSM.

No specific chemical concerns

In addition, EFSA's Panel on Contaminants in the food chain claims no specific chemical concerns are expected for MSM, provided maximum residue levels are respected.

Within the same opinion, EFSA's Panel on Biological Hazards also establishes a method for detecting MSM, using levels of calcium, released from bones during processing, as a reference.

"This model will assist policy makers as well as food operators and inspectors in differentiating MSM from non-MSM,"​ EFSA stated in the opinion.

Specifically designed studies

In order to better differentiate between MSM obtained through low pressure techniques and hand deboned meat, EFSA recommends the use of specifically designed studies to collect data on potential indicators.

According to European Commission (EC) Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004 on hygiene rules for food of animal origin, MSM can be produced from poultry and pork but not from bovines, sheep and goats. It must be clearly labelled and does not count as part of the stated meat content of the product.

High pressure MSM must be immediately frozen and can only be used in cooked products.

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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