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MEPs Veto 'Meat Glue' Authorisation

by 5m Editor
24 May 2010, at 5:58am

EU - The European Parliament has blocked the authorisation of "meat glue" thrombin as a food additive.

The enzyme, derived from pigs or cattle, can be used to stick scraps of meat together to form single pieces. In a vote on Wednesday, 19 May, MEPs declared that such reconstituted meat products carry an unacceptably high risk of misleading consumers.

The European Commission had proposed to add porcine/bovine thrombin to a list of approved additives. However, MEPs narrowly decided to block the proposal when they backed a resolution tabled by the Environment Committee by 370 votes in favour, 262 against and 32 abstentions. A minimum of 369 votes in favour was needed to exercise Parliament's right of veto under the "regulatory procedure with scrutiny".

Addressing the plenary, Environment Committee Chair Jo Leinen (S&D, DE) said, "Consumers in Europe should be able to trust that they are buying a real steak or ham, not pieces of meat that have been glued together." A different view was expressed by Pilar Ayuso (EPP, ES), who argued that the binding procedure had been declared safe and was already practised in some countries. Member State authorities are currently able to decide at national level whether to allow the use of thrombin as a "processing aid" in food. The Commission proposal was a step towards clarifying that thrombin is a food additive which should be subject to regulation at EU level. Under EU legislation, a food additive may only be permitted in the European Union if it offers benefits to consumers and does not mislead them.

According to the Commission's proposal, meat products reconstituted with thrombin would have required labelling and would have been excluded from restaurants. However, MEPs considered that such measures would not have provided adequate protection against misleading consumers.

Parliament also highlighted a higher risk of bacterial infection in meat products created with thrombin, due to the larger surface area of meat and the cold bonding process that is used.