The Meat Products Regulations 2003 - Summary guidance for butchers
Friday 5 September 2003
These Guidance Notes are designed for butchers and similar small businesses that make and sell meat products. Comprehensive Guidance Notes covering all aspects of the new Regulations are available from the Food Standards Agency.
Although the Meat Products and Spreadable Fish Products Regulations 1984 have been the basis for meat product labelling for some time, there have been several changes in labelling laws which make it necessary to have new regulations. The main change has been a new European definition of meat for labelling purposes, which is different from the definition currently used in the UK. The new definition defines meat as 'skeletal muscle with naturally included or attached tissue', and sets specific limits for the amount of fat and connective tissue (i.e., rind, tendon, sinew, skin etc.) allowed (see table below). The definition specifically excludes MRM, feet and trotters, tail, and head meat but includes cheeks (Masseters). It also excludes non-muscle cuts such as liver, kidney, heart etc. Products are still allowed to contain all of these ingredients - they will just need to be described differently, and they cannot count towards the declared meat content.
|Pork||Birds and Rabbits||Beef, Lamb and other species|
Throughout this Guidance, the phrase 'EC meat' is used to mean 'meat according to the new European definition'.
There are already limits on fat in the existing Regulations, but the new EC meat definition now has lower limits. There are also limits on connective tissue, which are new. Products are still allowed to contain ingredients that do not meet these limits. However, where meat ingredients have more fat or connective tissue than allowed, the excess must be deducted from the meat content, and must be declared separately in the list of ingredients (if there is one).
The other two main changes that will affect you are:
- The minimum meat contents required for sausages, burgers, pies etc. are now based on the new EC definition. Because the new definition has lower limits for fat, this means that the actual minimums are lower. However, the amount of lean meat required stays the same (provided the connective tissue is within the limits).
- The way the meat content is declared is now different: Instead of giving a 'minimum meat content (%)', you will have to give the actual meat content (%) of each species.