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.