In the wake of a national campaign focusing on ammonia-spritzed lean finely textured beefotherwise known as pink slime (conduct a Google search on pink slime to get a better understanding)media attention turned to another ethically questionable food-processing product. Transglutaminase, or meat glue, is a white powder used to bind scraps of beef that would have otherwise been discarded. Composite pieces of meat are coated in meat glue, reshaped, and resold as complete cuts of meat such as filet mignon steaks. Because meat glue becomes transparent when cooked, it is virtually undetectable by the average consumer. While the USDA ensures that meat glue is safe, California State Senator Ted Lieu believes that tighter regulations should be placed on the additive: They should look at not just whether the meat glue itself is harmful, but the entire process of when you combine meats together.
Filets and other pieces of meat sold commercially must be appropriately labeled if they contain transglutaminase. However, the cuts of meat sold in bulk to restaurants and catering services often contain meat gluea detail that goes unmentioned on most menus. According to Dr. Betsy Booren, Director of Scientific Affairs for the American Meat Institute, consumers should take responsibility for finding out where their food is coming from. Senator Lieu contends that ethical restaurants and food service providers need to be transparent about their use of food additives like meat glue and pink slime.
1. Discuss the ethical issues here and how could these issues affect the “bottom line?”
2. Do you agree with Senator Lieu or Dr. Booren? Explain.