Fluoride Action Network

Meat Produced by Advanced Meat/Bone Separation Machinery and Recovery Systems

Source: Federal Register - Proposed Rules | Food Safety and Inspection Service
Posted on April 13th, 1998

SUMMARY: In 1994, the Food Safety and Inspection Service amended its
regulations to recognize that product resulting from advanced meat/bone
separation machinery and recovery systems comes within the definition
of meat when these recovery systems are operated to ensure that the
characteristics and composition of the resulting product are consistent
with those of meat. The Agency is proposing to clarify the regulations
and to supplement the rules for assuring compliance. In future
rulemakings, the Agency expects to apply the process control-
performance standards approach of this proposal to other types of
operations for manufacturing meat and poultry trimmings.


Part 319 of the regulations specifies “Mechanically Separated
(Species)” (MS(S)) as the name of mechanically separated livestock
product that meets various regulatory requirements and limits the level
at which, and products in which, MS(S) may be used (Secs. 319.5 and
319.6). The Department has prohibited the use of MS(S) in certain meat
food products, based on determinations about the basic characteristics
expected in those products, and in baby, junior, and toddler foods,
based on a determination that available information was insufficient to
conclude that other regulatory restrictions are adequate to prevent the
mottling of infants’ teeth as a result of increased fluoride intakes
(Sec. 319.6(d); see, e.g., 47 FR 28240-41).

The MS(S) definition and standard does not specify the type of
equipment used to separate and remove bone because, as intended by the
Department, it covers product manufactured by any machinery that
operates on the differing resistance of hard bone and soft tissue to
passage through small openings, whether the machinery employs sieves,
screens, or other devices and whether or not bones are prebroken before
being fed into the equipment. However, the MS(S) definition and
standard was not intended to apply to whole pieces of muscle removed
from livestock bones by mechanical or other means. (47 FR 28223.)

In 1994, FSIS determined that there were meat/bone separators and
recovery systems that were fundamentally different than the machines
used to manufacture MS(S). The Agency’s final rule specifically
contrasted skeletal muscle separated from livestock bones using
advanced recovery systems with the characteristics and composition of
MS(S). FSIS concluded that, unlike with MS(S), “consumer expectations
of `meat’ are met with regard to the product obtained from the advances
in meat/bone separation machinery and recovery systems, because the
product’s characteristics, in terms of appearance and texture, and its
composition are similar to those of `meat,’ as currently defined” (59
FR 62554).

The amendments adopted in 1994 did not change the applicability or
requirements of the MS(S) regulations. Instead, they recognized FSIS’s
conclusion that product resulting from advanced meat/bone separation
machinery and recovery systems comes within the definition of meat when
the systems are operated to ensure that product characteristics and
composition are consistent with those of meat.

In response to compliance concerns raised after the amendments took
effect (on January 5, 1995), FSIS surveyed federally inspected
establishments known to be using advanced meat/bone separation
machinery and a variety of starting materials (in the fall of 1995),
met with industry members, and issued a directive to inspection program
personnel to increase consistency in the application of regulatory
requirements (FSIS Directive 7160.1, September 13, 1996). FSIS then
published a notice that summarized the survey results, discussed
various issues, and solicited additional data and information from the
public (1996 notice) (61 FR 57791, November 8, 1996). The Agency
received 34 comments (from regulated industry members, various trade
associations, equipment manufacturers, consumer organizations,
consultants, academics, an FSIS inspector, and a U.S.
Senator),1 but no new data. The Agency subsequently took
steps to assure that, as intended, product which contained spinal cord
was not treated as meat (see, e.g., FSIS Directive 7160.2, April 14,

See also: November 3, 1995: Poultry Products Produced by Mechanical Separation and Products In Which Such Poultry Products Are Used