Enjoying Pink Slime? You’ll Love Meat Glue

Meat Glue Powder

photo: CookingIssues.com

Transglutaminase, also known as Meat Glue, is not something you’d expect to find in your steak. But it turns out that this animal derived additive is used, mostly in the dining industry. It allows chefs and cooks to glue cheap meat scraps together into a larger piece of meat that appears to be a prime cut (filet mignon, anyone)?

Besides being deceitful, the bigger issue is food safety. Prime beef is often times served rare or medium rare. This means that the middle portion of your steak is still pink. While there is a chance that some dangerous bacteria may be lurking inside, it is really low. That’s because most bacteria will be found on the outside (exposed) part of a meat cut. Now what happens when these outside parts become inside parts as a result of glue?

Note that transglutaminase itself is a perfectly safe enzyme that creates a strong chemical bond when connecting two proteins together. It has no harmful effects whatsoever and is found naturally in meat.

In a grocery setting, meat glue is usually not an issue. If a meat has been bonded, it will have to labeled “formed” or “reformed”. You will not, however, find the ingredient Transglutaminase in the ingredient list.

What to do at the supermarket:

If you do buy reformed meat at the supermarket, make sure to prepare it so that even the inside part gets cooked at a high enough temperature to kill off all bacteria.

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  • SteveT

    For once I agree with you, meat glue is bad news from a food safety standpoint, just like blade- or needle-tenderized meat.  Here’s a tip – if the price of your “steak” seems too good to be true, it probably is tenderized or held together by meat glue.  It’s ok to eat (in fact, may be quite tasty), just make sure it is cooked to a minimum of 160 degrees internal temp.  If you want a rare or medium rare steak, buy it and cook it yourself, or buy at high end steakhouses.  I personally would not order a steak rare or medium rare that costs less than $20.

  • http://twitter.com/QuipsTravails Michele Hays

    Thank you.  So many people panic about food additives without knowing the reason why they may be a bad thing – like in this case, where it isn’t the additive itself, but how using it can allow for bacterial contamination.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anita.r.mcguire Anita Rocha McGuire

    You have no idea how strict USDA/FDA/FSIS are on regulating meat and poultry processing plants. And how many of your lives have been saved BECAUSE of those controls. HACCP is MANDATORY for EVERY meat/poultry processing plant in the US, and even for those outside the US that export into the country. The many recalls we’ve had in the last few years are precisely because of those controls!!! Please get educated before you scare people.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Fooducate

      You have no idea how understaffed the federal inspection units are. Safety has slowly shifted from being the responsibility of manufacturers to that of consumers. Can’t enjoy steaks done rare these days without catching some bug.

  • meatglue

    If you have ever eaten a hamburger then you can take your bacteria coating the outside hippy horsesh!t dialogue and shove it up your candy @ss. And if it tastes good. Who gives a flying fvck if it was made from more than one piece of meat

  • R3d3mptional

    Glue…in my meat…the only foods I love? Is this NOT HUMAN? Why must you do this to me?! *Dramatic Wails*.