A media report causes disgust: According to “Spiegel” and NDR, scientists found so-called mechanical separator meat in poultry sausage products from several large German manufacturers – this was processed without labeling it, as required by law.

The basis of the reports are therefore laboratory tests by the Bremerhaven university professor Stefan Wittke, who became active on behalf of the two media houses.

Mechanically separated meat is produced by machines forcing animal carcasses or coarsely chopped bones with leftover meat through perforated discs. Bone splinters and pieces of cartilage get caught, all soft parts such as muscles, fat and connective tissue or even the spinal cord are squeezed off. This creates a mushy mass that costs less than one euro per kilogram.

The reporters submitted a total of 30 poultry sausage and poultry meat samples from different manufacturers to the laboratory for blind testing. Nine of them tested positive – including four organic sausages. Almost every second of the 20 sausage samples was positive.

On the other hand, there was no indication of mechanically separated meat in the ten cold cut samples examined, for example with piece meat from fillet, pork loin or roast. According to his clients, researcher Wittke has developed a new, peer-reviewed method to detect this ingredient in sausage products. So far, this has hardly been possible.

Five of the nine products that tested positive were manufactured by the Böklund-based Zur Mühlen Group, which belongs to the Tönnies Group. Two products from the East Westphalian manufacturer Franz Wiltmann and one product each from the manufacturers Wiesenhof and Mecklenburger Landpute GmbH were also affected among the positive cases.

These goods were sold under brand names such as Gutfried, Edeka Bio, Rewe Bio or Rewe Beste Wahl. Nowhere on the packaging was MSM stated.

The spokespersons for three companies belonging to Tönnies Holding denied the use of mechanically separated meat – and questioned the significance of the examination method.

Wiesenhof announced that the affected poultry mortadella contained no mechanically separated meat. The research method used by the Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences is “merely a new scientific approach for possible proof that (…) is not a solid basis”. Regularly carried out own tests based on recognized methods proved the opposite.

A Wiltmann spokeswoman explained: “We do not use mechanically separated meat anywhere in our production. We firmly reject its use for quality reasons.” A spokeswoman for Mecklenburger Landpute GmbH also wrote that no mechanically separated meat is used.

Consumer advocates reacted with alarm to the report. “When meat companies use mechanically separated meat without pointing this out on the products, that’s consumer deception on a grand scale,” said Armin Valet from the Hamburg consumer advice center.