FSA ‘hopeful’ DSM moratorium will be short-lived

FSA chief executive Tim Smith has insisted that the EU’s moratorium on desinewed meat (DSM) is not necessarily a permanent measure, and confirmed that the FSA still hopes that it will be of short duration.

After outlining the chronology of the FSA’s action on DSM at yesterday’s FSA board meeting, Smith said: “As the situation has cooled a little, it is clear that whatever the policy which emerges from this process, everyone concerned wants it to be evidence- and science-based. On that basis, because we believe that the evidence and science points to the material that we were calling DSM as being every bit as safe as meat boned in the traditional way, then I’d be hopeful that logic will prevail and the moratorium will be fairly short.” However, he added that this is likely to take a long time.

Smith said that there was a great deal going on to address the issue, both within the industry as well as with the European Commission (EC), and that the EC had been happy with the ‘impactful outcome’ of the UK’s prompt response to the moratorium. However, it also recognised the practical difficulties that the new labelling would impose, and Smith thought that this could result in a delay of the implementation of measures.

He said that it should give industry comfort that while the moratorium is in place, leeway will be given with regard to the amount of time taken in enforcement.

The FSA is still concerned that the UK is not operating on a level playing field as a result of the moratorium, but Smith said that the language used by the European Commission was noticeably stronger than it has been before. The EC’s director general for health and consumers Paola Tesoti Coggi had also confirmed that it would investigate cases where member states were exporting incorrectly labelled MSM products derived from beef into the UK, following the FSA presenting evidence of non-compliance in other member states.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee MPs are meeting this afternoon to question members of the Department of Health on the issues of DSM, with Smith representing the FSA to answer any questions within the FSA’s remit.

>MPs to quiz health dept over DSM

>Government pledges to fight EU on DSM