27 July 2001

EU tightens up meat definition for pre-packs

BRUSSELS has tightened its definition of "meat" for labelling pre-packed products such as sausages, salami and corned beef.

Officials believe this will give better information to consumers.

European Union definitions make no distinction between muscle-meat, fat and offal. But consumers generally perceive meat to mean muscle-meat only. As such, a number of member states have adopted their own interpretations.

The commission has, therefore, come up with a new Directive, restricting the definition of meat to the "skeletal-attached muscles". This has to be transposed into national laws by Jan 1, 2003.

European consumer affairs commissioner David Byrne said: "Our new harmonised definition is designed to give consumers more information by making the labelling of meat-based products more transparent and more precise."

Other animal parts for human consumption, such as heart, intestine or liver, will have to be labelled as such and not as "meat". But there is provision for a limited amount of fat to be included as meat, where it adheres to the muscles. &#42