The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee, which yesterday (25 July) published the results of an inquiry on the actions taken over the DSM moratorium, has now called on the UK government to increase pressure on the Commission to reverse its decision.
The report said the ban had had “devastating” and far-reaching implications for UK producers, who could incur potential losses of around £200m, and could lead to the rise of retail prices of some meat products for consumers.
It said: “The Commission’s decision to request a moratorium in the absence of any scientific evidence that DSM represents a food safety risk was totally disproportionate and unacceptable. We are clear that the [UK] Food Standards Agency’s assessment that DSM presents no risk to public health is correct.”
In April, the Commission demanded that the UK discontinue DSM production from ruminant bones with immediate effect, and that it reclassify DSM from non-ruminant bones as mechanically separate meat (MSM), a lower value product made using a similar technique, but under a far higher pressure technique, which destroys the muscle fibre structure, rendering a paste-like substance.
The report criticised the Commission for creating what amounted to a two-tier system within Europe by taking steps which hugely disadvantaged UK producers, while not bringing forward inspections in other member states.
It said: “We find it impossible to reconcile the pace and severity of the Commission’s disproportionate action towards the UK with its seemingly relaxed approach to inspection and enforcement in other member states.”
Furthermore, it said that it was “totally unacceptable” that wrongly labelled or unlawful meat may still be entering the UK from other member states, when “domestic producers have paid a such a heavy price for compliance with the Commission’s request”.
The MPs said it was extremely disappointing that the Commission was unable, or unwilling, to provide oral evidence to the committee by not sending an official representative in person or giving evidence by video-link. It said: “The Commission’s failure to justify its actions and fulfil its duty to provide oral evidence to the national parliament of a member state demonstrates a worrying disregard for democratic accountability.”