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'Meat glue' approval draws criticism

Published: 10 Feb 2010 10:07 GMT+01:00

"We do not want this at all - it is meat make-up," said Jan Bertoft at the Swedish Consumer's Association (Sveriges Konsumenter).

Thrombin is a coagulation protein which together with the fibrous protein fibrin can be used to develop a "meat glue" enzyme that can be used for sticking together different pieces of meat.

EU countries voted to approve the use of the enzyme on Monday.

Despite clear labelling of meat products, there remains a concern that consumers will be fooled as it is not clear from the appearance of the product whether it is constructed from different pieces of meat or not.

The additive can for example be used to put together small parts of pork tenderloin to make the product look like a whole fillet.

"The problem is that it looks like real meat. It is the dishonesty in it that makes us think that it is not okay," Bertoft said.

The approval of thrombin has also come in for criticism from some Swedish politicians.

"To use Thrombin in meat is a way of misleading consumers, to present something as better than it actually is," said Åsa Westlund, a Social Democrat MEP.

Westlund has been involved in the process to develop new EU legislation covering food additives which will come into force in the beginning of next year.

"If it had been in force today, then this would not have been allowed. That is my view," she said.

But Gunilla Henrysdotter at the Swedish National Food Administration (Livsmedelsverket) argues that it is not for certain that the new legislation would have rendered thrombin illegal.

"It would be approved in the future as well," she said.

The decision to approve thrombin was taken by a Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) on Monday. One country voted against and one abstained. All the other countries, including Sweden, voted in favour.

The most important issue raised by Sweden was the proper labelling of products containing thrombin, according to Evelyn Jansson-Elfberg at the Food Administration.

"There is no danger in eating it, but the risk is that the customer will pay an excessively high price. It is the misleading aspect of it all that we have reacted against," she said.

Sweden, and several other countries, have thus argued that thrombin should be classed as a food additive instead of a processing aid.

This line of reasoning was accepted and means that thrombin will only be able to be used in products in which its content its clearly declared.

The products will read "composite meat product."

Thrombin can be made from blood taken from either cows or pigs, and this information must also be clearly shown.

Products containing thrombin will not however be approved for use in commercial kitchens.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

10:57 February 10, 2010 by byke
Yuck !
11:47 February 10, 2010 by Renfeh Hguh
Ok, if "meat glue" has not been legal to use until now, then how the hell do they make the so called "meat" that all the kebab shops in Sweden use on their spits? It looks like a big tube of spam and nothing like real meat.

I guess it must be compacted leftover rubbish.

I miss seeing real meat rotating around a spit.

The quality of food in Sweden is pretty poor unless you go to top restarunts or the upmarket grocers or butchers. The last thing we need is more cr@p food at Ica, Konsum et all.
11:50 February 10, 2010 by Mb 65
There is no danger in eating it. How do they know when most probably it has only been tested on rats. They need to get rid of the EU all they do is make stupid laws and invent anything that will bring in more tax. How much are these company's giving the EU to allow all these additives to be used. Look what they have done to the economy of Europe. I cannot believe that Sweden voted for this.
12:13 February 10, 2010 by V8farty
I've been known to stick a sausage to a couple of scotch eggs. - Just for a laugh like...
12:37 February 10, 2010 by flintis
Mb65 I like that, save billions & scrap the EU, get rid of all those has been politicians, morons and hangers on in Brussels & Strasbourg.
13:10 February 10, 2010 by Bensonradar
"Products containing thrombin will not however be approved for use in commercial kitchens."

Does this mean it is banned in restaurants?
13:57 February 10, 2010 by calebian22
"composite meat product"

mmmmm delicious!
14:07 February 10, 2010 by byke
Sounds like pedigree chum
14:36 February 10, 2010 by Jenta
lol @V8farty, you smutty perv!
15:35 February 10, 2010 by Puffin
The idea that it is to be banned in restaurants and will be clearly marked - but how would we ever know given the recent food labelling scandals?

It sounds like this decision will make it legal to con the consumer into paying 100s of kronor for a 'fillet' made of meat scraps that before this law would have been sold cheaply as minced meat
15:59 February 10, 2010 by McChatter
Who's going to make the biggest Swedish meatball then? No entries under 100 kg.! LOL
16:10 February 10, 2010 by ATT
Like our meat was not artifitual enough!

In you are intersted in this topic go to fora.tv and check: Michael Pollan on Food Rules: An Eater's Manual.

Also interesting the google talk by Daphne Miller on her book called the jungle effect.
16:14 February 10, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
"To use Thrombin in meat is a way of misleading consumers, to present something as better than it actually is," said Åsa Westlund, a Social Democrat MEP.

Asa, sadly, Sweden is not known as the authority on quality meat, so therefore assigning your "grades" of quality is really a nonissue on a broader scale. Enjoy your sliced up worn out dairy cow steak.
03:38 February 11, 2010 by Davey-jo
So they sweep the butchery floor and take all the bits to a large pot and throw in some thrombin and out comes a Mcdonalds with fries to go ...;}
04:02 February 11, 2010 by soultraveler3
This sounds so disgusting. /yuck!

Sweden doesn't have the greatest meat in most store anyways. Glued together meat is wrong on so many levels. :(

I'm glad we have a local meat farmer here who runs his own organic butcher shop.
09:41 February 11, 2010 by krigeren
This confirms it. The only meat I will eat now is what I kill. When my freezer is empty I go vegetarian until next hunting season.
11:16 February 11, 2010 by Audrian
Why is it necessary to glue meat pieces. Probably to make meat producers to charge higher. I think Money is written all over this regulation. This is what I think the public should demand>

(1) The package containing glued meat should be shown show in big lebels that the meat is glued; and

(2) consumers henceforth boycott glued meat.
11:29 February 11, 2010 by Tennin
Yum yum all natural meat glue, nothing like buying a piece of steak or fläskfilet that used to be just scrap meat chunks. Mmmm Mmmm good. I wonder if we get to pay the same high prices for the glued meat steaks as the normal soild whole chunk of steak?
12:49 February 11, 2010 by glamshek
Let them use it and kill the people by use of it. They are not interested in people's health. All they see is 'money' , this materialistic society. Ah
18:54 February 11, 2010 by free range cheese
It can't be any worse than lutefisk.
07:47 February 12, 2010 by karex
@geflefrequentflyer

Low quality meat in Sweden? And just what are you comparing the Sweidish meat to? If you are comparing to American beef, I can agree with you on the flavor side, but not on the health and nutrition aspect. They pump so much hormones to fatten up the cattle in the US that the people who eat the beef end up being obese as a result. I have no scientific proof, but am 100% convinced that the American obesity epidemic (yes I consider obesity an epidemic in the US) is caused by the unseen crap they add while processing their food and not so much bad eating habits as many people like to think. Just cook a pound of ground beef in the US and count the number of times you have to drain the floating fat out of it before you can add the remaining ingredients...

You are what you eat. What effect is this glue thing going to have on our metabolism?

And how in the world do they propose to enforce the "not allowed in restaurants" rule? Will they place a kitchen marshal inside each establishment? Or are the politicians naive enough to assume that restaurant owners won't pass jigsaw-puzzled beef off as tenderloin to make a nifty profit?
13:06 February 12, 2010 by Audrian
Where did this stupid idea came from? Is it possible to know what type of meat is glued together to cheat consumer into buying undesirable product? I smell evil here? we were told cigartatee had no side effect for several decades. I think consumers should boycottee foodstores that sell glued meat.
17:50 February 12, 2010 by ThureWallenberg
Swedish meat is disgusting enough already. Sales are rule through an oligapole which sells rubbish at high prices.

I eat Swedish meat as seldom as possible. They have a meat sludge which is spiced up and called falukorv. No wonder the Swedes look like bean poles.
06:13 February 13, 2010 by Nordicreb
@karex: I think what geflefrequentflyer is referring to is that Swedish beef comes from dairy cows, while U.S. beef comes from real beef cattle. The difference in texture and flavor is distinct.

The hormone problem you mention is big and something that the U.S. still needs to address. If you can afford it, though, there are plenty of cattle farms over here that sell non-hormone treated meat.
09:39 February 13, 2010 by johnnyrebel
Just shut up and eat.
09:49 February 13, 2010 by glamshek
Lol Jonny why do you want to shut people up for this kind of meat to be eaten?
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