How Much Meat Glue Are You Eating?


Meat glue, or transglutaminase, is an enzyme that can be derived from bacteria, or from the blood plasma of cows and pigs. Used to turn scraps of meat into “prime” cuts, meat glue is misleading consumers both about what they’re buying, and what’s in their food. Here’s a video from Australia’s TodayTonight:

“Why do we have the masks on?” “Because it’s dangerous s—. See that? Don’t breathe that in.”

Although technically natural, the raw powder is not safe. Transglutaminase is the enzyme responsible for blood clotting, and high transglutaminase levels are a sign/symptoms of diseases like Huntington’s.

Found in meat from your butcher or local restaurant including beef, chicken, fish, pork, and lamb, meat glue is also used to create noodles, and enhance milk and yogurt.

How? Take scraps of meat, sprinkle transglutaminase (a powder) onto it, and roll it up with plastic. After it sits in the fridge overnight, even butchers can barely tell the difference between meat glued pieces and real cuts.

While avant-garde chefs and molecular gastronimists may find good use for transglutaminase, most of the time it’s use is sinister: selling consumers cheap meat scraps in place of prime steaks, and increasing the risk of stomach flu.

When meat scraps are combined, the actual surface area of the slice of meat (where bacteria is located) goes up exponentially, leaving the consumer unaware that there are colonies of unkilled bacteria festering in the middle of their “filet mignon”.

Banned by the EU, meat glue is widely used in the US and Australia. If you don’t want cow/pork in your fish, or just want to avoid food additives, here’s what you ca do about meat glue:

  • Demand stricter labelling laws/requirements, and reward restaurants and butchers that are honest and offer a selection of natural/organic meat.
  • Mexican grocers (who you can often see butchering meat behind the counter), and stores that sell meat scraps as stew pieces are probably safe places to shop.
  • Avoid processed foods (hotdogs, imitation crab), which have a good chance of containing meat glue.

What do you think of meat glue? Is it a way to create novel, avant-garde food, or just a way to rip off consumers? Should it be banned?

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