A Matter of Taste

by Einar Du Rietz

After being approved by the national governments in the EU, Thrombin has now found it’s way into the parliament, by way of the environmental committee, which – not surprisingly – found a majority for proposing a ban.

Thrombin is also, more popularly, known as “Meat Glue”, creating connotations that set off a lot of alarm clocks. As a matter of fact, it is a perfectly natural product; a coagulation protein which together with the fibrous protein fibrin can be developed into an enzyme, that can be used for sticking together different pieces of meat.

In other words, a ban would be highly symbolical. The Thrombin doesn’t show and doesn’ t taste, and above all, is not dangerous. The glued steaks however, are often built with meat that otherwise would have been thrown away. Something to contemplate for those who argue that eating steak contributes to climate change.

A general misunderstanding is that this process is misleading the consumer. Of course it would be, if most consumers were not aware of what they consume. On top, there areother regulations concerning the display of information, something which is probably unnecessary, as the market pressure on the producers is so strong anyhow.

But, maybe some days, some people just want a cheaper piece of meat to fry up, instead of carefully selecting among the delicacies. People have different preferences, and these also tend to change from time to time.

I’m not a big beefeater myself, but a favourite restaurant in Brussels is a small Serbian place, run by a family of butchers who buy a fresh animal every morning and then adjust the menu during the course of the day. Sometimes I enjoy paying a premium at the few European restaurants that offer Argentinian steak. It’s often worth it. Some people only want locally produced food, others only meat from their home countries. Some only go to the local butcher, whom they know, others visit supermarkets.

Why politicians, and in particular EU parliamentarians should have anything to do with this is a mystery. Or maybe it’s not. Politicians want to act, and especially appear responsible. The meat eaters foot the bill.


About the Author: Einar Du Rietz

Einar Du Rietz is a journalist and communications consultant based in Europe. He has authored several environmental reports for the Electrolux Group and written many blogs for the Center for the New Europe at CNE Environment.