Meat Glue

Until last week, I had never heard of meat glue. In fact, if I hadn’t been in the same room as The Big Man when he was watching this video, I still probably wouldn’t know about it. (I have no idea where he got it from.)

This is the gist:

Transglutaminase (an enzyme) is used to take scraps of meat, “glue” them together, and sell the new whole as prime cuts. Once cooked, they are indistinguishable from real whole pieces, even to people with better eyes for meat than the average person. Sometimes, they are indistinguishable raw as well.

According to the video, transglutaminase can be produced from bacteria or from blood plasma of pigs and cows — the part that causes blood clotting (or coagulation).

This binding process can be used on beef, pork, lamb, chicken and fish.

So what’s the problem? If it reduces waste, it’s a good thing, right?

First, let me knock off the little problem of ethics. It’s not right to put meat scraps together and sell them to someone as a prime cut of meat. It’s not a prime cut of meat — it’s scraps glued together.

Next, you need to wear protective clothing (gloves and a mask) when handling the enzyme. That in itself doesn’t make me inclined to want to eat it.

The last set of problems have to do with bacteria. The pieces that used to be on the outside (as scraps) that are now on the inside have “hundreds of times” more bacteria and are more difficult to cook thoroughly. That’s a bad combination, leaving people very open to food poisoning. Also, if you don’t know that the meat is “glued” and you order it anything less than well done, those hard-to-cook parts definitely aren’t going to be cooked.

Unless you are vegetarian, you are probably eating glued meat regularly — and there are no disclosure laws, so no one has to tell you anything, even if you ask. (And they may not even know, depending on how they’re supplied.)

Meat glue was banned in Europe last year, but it is legal everywhere else.

There is another write-up about meat glue here that references the same video, if you are looking to read a bit more.

Have you ever heard of this? Does it affect your eating habits?

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6 responses to this post.

  1. This might be the single piece of information that makes me finally move to an all-veggie diet. That’s DISGUSTING!

  2. Posted by Shawn on 28 March 2011 at 10:19

    I’m actually fine with that, except for the lack of disclosure. When I cook steak, I tend to go for rare, so I’d rather not get a cut of meat that I need to cook more thoroughly in order to make it safe. Certainly, anyone who’s ever eaten a hot dog, sausage, or burger should be disgusted by the concept, if they think about it.

  3. Posted by Shawn on 28 March 2011 at 10:20

    Um, that should say “should NOT be disgusted”. Proofreading fail.

  4. Absolutely disgusting. Another reason to get your food from a local, trusted source. I’m reading an excellent book right now called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and it’s fabulous! I haven’t gotten too far in and already I want to dig an asparagas patch and get some ducks. Another reason to become vegetarian!

  5. Posted by Dana on 16 April 2011 at 21:12

    Mr. Cox told me yesterday about “pink slime” that is used in the beef industry to stretch ground beef. This is all second hand, haven’t done my research yet. It is waste parts from the beef with ammonia added to it. EWWWW!!! Many fast food places he said use suppliers who use it. I have to tell you that curbed my want for burgers instantly.

    • Let me know what you find out! I wouldn’t be surprised a bit to learn that that’s 100% true… Not wanting burgers is probably not a bad thing 😉

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