Not specified on sausage?: Tönnies and Co. are said to have processed mechanically separated meat

Not stated on sausage?
Tönnies and Co. are said to have processed mechanically separated meat

Using a new method, researchers are finding mechanically separated meat in many meat products from major manufacturers such as Tönnies or Wiesenhof. This is no longer meat, but a substitute product made from animal remains. The processing must be declared – but it is often not.

Several large meat companies in Germany are said to have used mechanically separated meat in sausage and cold cut products, without declaring it on the packaging and thus misleading consumers about the content. This is reported by NDR and “mirror“. As a result, researchers at Bremerhaven University found evidence of mechanically separated meat in a third of the 30 products tested. Numerous tested meat products come from the manufacturers Wiesenhof and Tönnies. However, the manufacturers reject the allegations.

In legal terms, mechanically separated meat is no longer meat, but a “substitute ingredient” because a lot of slaughter leftovers are processed during production. Whole carcasses are often placed in a large machine. Fat, muscle fibres, crushed bones and connective tissue are then pressed together into a pulpy mass, which is finally finely sieved; Tendons, spinal cord or nerve tissue can still get into the meat. “The sale or addition of the meat pulp is only allowed if it comes from pigs or poultry – and if this is marked on the package,” writes the “Spiegel”.

“When meat companies use mechanically separated meat without pointing it out on the products, that’s consumer deception on a grand scale,” said Armin Valet from the Hamburg consumer center to the magazine. Foodwatch even speaks of “consumer fraud” if the suspicion is confirmed: “The goods should not be sold.”

Manufacturers doubt the research method

The research team from Bremerhaven was able to identify mechanically separated meat using a new method that looks for a specific protein in the meat products that is only found in cartilage and intervertebral discs. In a blind study, the scientists were able to prove that this protein occurs in 41 of 42 test sausages – with and without evidence of mechanically separated meat.

According to “Spiegel”, however, all manufacturers of the products now tested have denied the use of mechanically separated meat. A company spokesman for a Tönnies subsidiary questioned the examination method and referred to processed meat from young poultry, which could contain a small proportion of cartilage cells. However, cartilage markers were not examined at all. A law firm commissioned by Wiesenhof also emphasized that the method had not yet been officially recognized.

But that could change soon. The State Office for Food Safety in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania said the method was “forward-looking”. Testing laboratories already have the necessary equipment so that food inspectors can use them in their everyday work.

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