On Thursday, May 20, the European Parliament voted to ban bovine and porcine thrombin used as an additive to bind separate pieces of meat together into one piece. According to European Union lawmakers, the additives, which are commonly called “meat glue,” have no proven benefits” and create products that “carry an unacceptably high risk of misleading consumers” instead.
Another consideration EU lawmakers considered was the 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.
The decision not to authorize meat glue as an additive rejects an earlier European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) positive safety opinion on the use of ‘meat glue’ in 2005.
Meat glue is an enzyme composed of thrombin and fibrogen, obtained from blood plasma. It can be used by the meat industry as a food additive for reconstituting fresh meat to create a product of desirable size and form. The method can also be applied to poultry, fish and seafood.
The Parliament estimated that there is “a clear risk that meat containing thrombin would find its way into meat products served in restaurants or other public establishments serving food, given the higher prices that can be obtained for pieces of meat served as a single meat product”.
Some lawmakers stressed that meat glue had been declared safe and was already used in some countries.
Meanwhile, others said that “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,” and “beyond this specific case, the European Parliament has sent a political message to the Commission defending transparency towards the consumer and refusing to accept poor quality food”.