News | Sunday, 30 May 2010

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MEPs gives red card to meat glue

Nationalist MEPs Casa and Busuttil vote in favour of food additive

Nationalist MEPs Simon Busuttil and David Casa voted against a resolution to ban bovine and porcine thrombin, a meat glue used to bind separate pieces of meat together into one piece.
Meat glue is an enzyme obtained from blood plasma that is used by the meat industry to reconstitute fresh meat in a desirable size and form. The method can also be applied to poultry, fish and seafood.
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”.
But the advantages and benefits for consumers of thrombin have not been demonstrated, the House added.
The resolution in favour of the ban was however approved by 370 votes in favour, 261 against and 32 abstentions, which stopped an attempt by European commissioner John Dalli to seek EU-level approval of meat glue additives.
Speaking to MaltaToday, Simon Busuttil justified his stand in favour of the additive, arguing that he was supporting the line taken by Dalli.
“I voted against the resolution because this was the European People’s Party’s line and because the vote was preceded by an appeal made in plenary by Commissioner Dalli to vote against. I found no reason to ignore or reject his reasonable arguments,” Busuttil said.
The EPP’s party line was not supported entirely – 46 of their MEPs voted for the resolution, and 11 abstained.
All socialist MEPs, except one, and including the three Labour MEPs, voted for the resolution, supported by the entire Green group and a majority of liberal MEPs.
Ultimately the ban was enforced with a majority of just one vote, as 369 votes were needed to veto the proposal.
Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner John Dalli had argued in its favour, stating that it would have given consumers access to cheaper meat products.
“This additive is my opinion an example of a food sector development which will benefit consumers. I see no reason for its suppression and hope very much that you will appreciate the entirely valid reasons I have set out as to why it should be approved,” Dalli told Parliament.
According to the Commission’s proposal, meat products reconstituted with thrombin would have required labeling and would have been excluded from restaurants.

The lifting of the ban on meat glue had the blessing of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which gave a positive safety opinion on the use of ‘meat glue’ in 2005.
However, MEPs remained unconvinced that such measures would have provided adequate measures to protect consumers. “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,” German Socialist MEP Jo Leinen said.
According to the European Greens, MEPs were right to reject the Commission’s proposal to allow thrombin as an food additive, “not because meat glue is dangerous for human health, but because the use of thrombin would mislead consumers regarding the quality of the food.”


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