Meat Industry INSIGHTS Newsletter

970723 FSIS Responds to National Meat Assn Concerns Re: MSP Labels

June 30, 1997 -- The office of FSIS Administrator Tom Billy responded on June 27 to a letter sent by the National Meat Association in April requesting clarification of the rationale behind the FSIS policy that permits whole poultry carcasses and parts to be exempt from mechanical separation labeling under certain conditions.

"As you are aware, many poultry manufacturers use mechanical separation equipment under different processing parameters to process whole poultry carcasses or parts of carcasses into a product labeled as 'ground poultry.' We have accepted the industry practice because there have been not issues raised regarding the practice and because it was not specifically addressed in the final rule for mechanically separated poultry (MSP)," explains FSIS.

It is explained further that the final rule for MSP distinguishes MSP as being derived from carcasses and parts of carcasses from which most of the edible muscle tissue has been removed and which results in a product with a paste-like form and a batter-like consistency. "According to the National Turkey Federation guidelines, 'ground poultry' does not start with the same materials as MSP or result in a product with the same texture as MSP; rather 'ground poultry' results from mechanically separating whole muscle cuts/parts (with muscle/skin with attached fat in natural proportions), such as drumsticks and necks."

Also, end product must appear ground and cannot be texturized to appear 'ground', writes FSIS. FSIS finishes by saying that the Agency will review the issues related to "both meat and poultry" recovered by mechanically separated machinery and intends to develop a "consistent regulatory framework" for such products.

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