Mechanically separated meat
(MSM), also known as mechanically recovered/reclaimed meat
(MRM), is a paste-like meat product produced by forcing beef
or chicken bones
, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve
or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue. Mechanically separated meat has been used in certain meat and meat products since the late 1960s. This product can be contrasted with meat extracted by advanced meat recovery
The practice of mechanically harvesting meat that would otherwise be unusable dates back to the 1950s, when mechanical hand tools were developed to help remove these scraps and minimize waste. By the 1960s, machines were developed that did this more efficiently and automatically, in a process designed by Vincent Gerbino. This allowed companies to cheaply bulk up or extend their products and, in turn, offer these products to the public for a lower price.
Safety and regulation
Questions arose in the 1980s as to the safety of mechanically separated meat. In 1982, a report published by U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service
(FSIS) on mechanically separated meat said it was safe and established a standard of identity
for the food product. Some restrictions were made on how much can be used and the type of products in which it can be used. These restrictions were based on concerns for limited intake of certain components in MSM like calcium
. Mechanically separated meat must be labeled as "mechanically separated" beef, pork, chicken, or turkey in the ingredients statement. Hot dogs
can contain no more than 20 percent mechanically separated beef or pork. The USDA
's final rule became effective November 4
Concerns were raised again when the BSE epidemic was discovered in the United Kingdom in 1986. Since bits of the spinal cord (the part most likely to be carrying BSE) and brain tissue often got mixed in with the rest of the meat, products using mechanically separated meat taken from the bodies of bovines were at higher risk for transmitting BSE to humans. As a result, in 1989 the United Kingdom tightened restrictions to help ensure that pieces of the spinal cord would not be present in mechanically separated meat taken from bovines.