Processor pursues legal action over DSM ban

Newby Foods, one of the largest producers of desinewed meat (DSM), is pursuing legal action after its business was decimated by the European Commission’s moratorium on the production of DSM.

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) told Meatinfo.co.uk that it is facilitating Newby Foods, with a judicial review against the ban, which is estimated to have cost the UK meat trade in the region of £25-30m.

The news comes after the publication of a damning report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s (EFRA), which said that industry was paying the price for mistakes made by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the government in reaction to the “heavy handed” actions for the Commission. The EFRA report highlighted the plight of Yorkshire-based Newby Foods, which was forced to make around half its workforce redundant in the wake of the DSM moratorium on material from ruminant bones, and has seen profitability fall by around 75%.

AIMS policy director Norman Bagley said: “We have no idea whether or not the FSA is trying to remedy the situation in Brussels so we are pressing on with legal action to try to get justice, all the way to Europe if necessary”.

Bagley said that although AIMS had been delighted with the EFRA Committee’s findings, the situation remained very unsatisfactory, with jobs lost and the UK meat industry operating at a disadvantage.   

Anne McIntosh, whose constituency of Thirsk and Malton covers Newby Food, and who also chaired the EFRA committee, told Meatinfo.co.uk that any legal means to try to lift the moratorium would be welcome. She said: “It is a matter we questioned both the chief executive of the FSA and the Minister on.

“The difficulty is that an action for judicial review is a UK remedy whereas the ban was imposed by the European Commission.

“I shall obviously follow developments closely. The loss to Newby Foods in terms of jobs loss and trade foregone is deeply regrettable. The overall loss to the UK meat trade is, I understand, in the region of £25-30m.

“It is unacceptable that the ban has only been imposed on the UK and that means that imports from other EU countries may still be slipping into the country.

“Desinewed meat produced is deemed to be safe to eat, so there is no basis for the moratorium that has been imposed on the UK meat.”

The EFRA report, published last week (23 July), said that the government should seriously consider taking legal action against the Commission should the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) supports the UK’s position, unless the moratorium is immediately lifted.

EFRA said that the ban “may already have irreparably damaged parts of the British meat industry but the government should make every possible effort to persuade the Commission to reverse its decision.”

Related news:

>MPs critcise FSA for DSM failures

>FSA action prevented media hysteria over DSM

>Government pledges to fight EU on DSM rules

>FSA didn’t stand up for UK interests over DSM, say MPs

>EU bans production of desinewed meat