Meat Economy

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The frightful state of European laws on meat products - Tesco have used full-page adverts in national newspapers to apologise for selling burgers in the UK that were found to contain 29% horsemeat. Traces of horse DNA were also detected by the Food Standards Agency of Ireland in products sold by Iceland, Lidl, Aldi and Dunnes. But a beefburger rarely contains 100% beef.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has two classifications for burger products - standard and economy.

Standard Products

A standard beefburger can only be classified as such if it comprises a minimum of 62% beef. Similarly, a chicken (or other poultry) or rabbit burger must contain a minimum of 55% meat, and a pork burger 67% minimum pig meat.

Economy Products

The percentages take a tumble when it comes to economy or "value" burger products. An economy beefburger must contain 47% meat, a chicken burger 41% and a pork burger 50% pig meat. Under European law, the term "meat" is defined as "skeletal muscle with naturally included or adherent fat and connective tissue" which has not been mechanically stripped from the carcass.

  • Any meat that has been pressure-blasted from the carcass must be listed separately as MRM (mechanically removed) or MSM (mechanically stripped) meat. MRM meat or paste can in theory be used in economy burgers but has to be listed as a separate ingredient.
  • Cow's nose not acceptable but Cow's cheeks is okay