Mechanically separated meat: Researchers are developing a detection method

If poultry sausage manufacturers use so-called mechanical separator meat in their products, this must be declared on the packaging. That is not always the case. To prove it, Bremerhaven University has developed a new method for poultry.

The Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences has developed a procedure to prevent the co-processing of mechanically separated meat detected in poultry sausages. In a study, 41 of 42 sausage samples with mechanically separated chicken meat were correctly classified using the chemical method, the university announced on Thursday. In one sample, the proportion was so low that detection was not possible.

Mechanically separated meat is meat that is mechanically extracted from bones under pressure. Depending on how high the pressure is, bone and cartilage components get into the meat mass.

“Mechanically separated meat is completely harmless to health,” said Hermann Kirchhoff, food expert at the Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (LAVES) in Oldenburg. However, manufacturers are responsible for labeling on the Packaging obligated. Since this often does not happen, he has already been summoned several times as an expert in relevant court proceedings.

So far, according to him, samples could only be examined microscopically for bone or cartilage particles that indicated mechanically separated meat. The new method developed by Prof. Stefan Wittke from the Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with the Gesellschaft für Lebensmittel-Forschung mbH, on the other hand, relies on the recognition of protein building blocks in meat that are only found in the intervertebral discs and in the cartilage of chickens.

According to Wittke, if an increased proportion of a certain protein is found in a poultry sausage product, it must come from cartilage or intervertebral discs. Kirchhoff said the method appears to be a safe way to detect MSM in cured meats when extracted at high pressure.

The NDR and the “Spiegel” had had 30 poultry sausage and poultry meat samples from different manufacturers tested by the Bremerhaven University. Nine of these were evaluated positively for mechanically separated meat. However, the companies concerned denied having used mechanically separated meat in the products tested.