Have you ever wondered why you are paying for a premium cut of meat? What if that $30+ cut of beef wasn’t exactly what you ordered? You might not realize it, but you can be getting duped. Restaurants and meat producers have been using transglutaminase, also known as meat glue, a chemical known for the breakdown and binding of scrap meats that would otherwise go to waste. Odds are, you’ve already eaten it.
The so-called meat glue is a wonder for restaurants. Transglutaminase provides uniform portions that cook evenly, look like premium cuts, and reduce the amount of waste after trimming high-dollar premium cuts. Meat glue can also be used to bind mixtures like sausages without casings and fusing innovative meat combinations. You know, the turducken or Howard Wolowitz’s tur-brisk-a-fill. But, what impact does it have on the human body?
Is transglutaminase safe?
According to researchers, transglutaminase or “TG” is safe in moderate consumption and should not be consumed in large quantities. Commonly sourced from the blood plasma of pigs and cattle, TG bonds proteins and the majority of the chemical is reduced or removed in the cooking process. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists transglutaminase as “generally recognized as safe,” but the problem lies with the process.
When meat is sourced, cut, and cured, a majority of the bacteria can be cooked off. While a single-cut of meat can still pose a risk, the risk increased with multi-cut meats fused together which introduces E. coli and other bacterias. Although the FDA recognizes this enzyme as safe, studies show that stomach enzymes have a difficulty breaking down proteins after TG has bonded them.
Should meat glue be banned?
Despite government administrations depicting transglutaminase as generally safe, should companies and restaurants be required to inform their customers that they are using chemically modified meats? You may be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that is willing to be open about the use of a product containing meat glue. With more strict laws surrounding the meat industry and a higher level of scrutiny for mass meat producers, the U.S. and other countries can phase out the use of transglutaminase.