Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Evaluation of a Simple Microscopy Protocol for Identifying Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM) in Pork, Chicken and Turkey - FA0203

This project was contracted by the Food Standards Agency with the intention, if successful, to help enforcement authorities to assess whether a particular meat ingredient produced by mechanically removing residual meat from bones falls within the definition of mechanically separated meat (MSM), also known as mechanically recovered meat (MRM).

Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM) is the meat removed from flesh-bearing bones after boning or from poultry carcasses by mechanical means, resulting in loss or modification of the muscle fibre structure. MSM falls outside the definition of meat, and therefore cannot contribute to the meat content of foods, and must be declared as a separate ingredient on the label. A microscopy method was developed during the research to help distinguish between MSM, and other meat products such as hand or machine de-boned meat that has been mechanically treated e.g. by mincing or the bones and connective tissue removed.

The final report and standard operating procedure provides guidance and reference images which can be used in the identification of MSM, meat and meat preparations.
At the outset there were two objectives for this originating project. The first was to use as simple a preparation and staining procedure as possible to evaluate the differences between reference samples of known origin. If the differences were clear then it would provide a guide for enforcement authorities to come to a reasonable decision as to the nature of the meat ingredient.

The second objective was to look more closely at a technique for staining the muscle structure and connective tissue since unpublished work carried out at Leatherhead Food Research using the stain Picro-Sirius Red indicated that there was a difference in staining of mechanically separated meat and control meat.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : Q01101 Chicken Pork and Turkey MSM report and SOP   (3064k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2007

Cost: £59,470
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Leatherhead Foods International Ltd
Agro Food Quality              
Food and Drink              
Food manufacturing industry              
Food Quality              
Process Technology