Who Knew There Was Glue in Your Meat?

12/31/2011

Meat-319x208While meat glue seems a fitting name, the substance used to hold small pieces of meat together isn’t actually glue, it’s called transglutaminase and it’s a family of enzymes used as clotting agents. It’s used to hold smaller pieces of meat together so that the price can be hiked up. Though meat glue itself isn’t considered dangerous by most, there is a larger fear of food borne illness when small pieces of meat, sourced from different places, are held together.

“The amount of bacteria on a steak that has been put together with meat glue is hundreds of times higher,” said microbiologist Glenn Pener reported on Future in Vegan

It's a question of truth in advertising, considering that your flank steak could actually be 1,000 tiny bits of meat. It’s been called the meat industry’s dirty little secret, a way of using up the scraps too small to sell. 

Take a closer look at meat glue.

The powder can be made from a bacteria enzyme or the coagulant that causes blood to clot in both cows and pigs. Though most sources say that it’s a family of enzymes, as mentioned above. 

The powder is added to meat and rolled up in plastic wrap. The meat is refrigerated for 6 hours and the result is a solid piece of meat that’s seemingly impossible to tell from the real thing. The practice is done to pork, lamb, chicken, and fish. 

According to the video, unless you’re a vegetarian, you could be eating meat glue on a regular basis. It’s another reason to think about what's really in the foods you’re eating. I initially stopped eating meat because I feared the hormones, additives, and antibiotics that were added to the proteins I chose. And with time, I’ve seen my fears realized in all the reporting I’ve done on the subject. It’s difficult to be mindful about the foods you eat when you’re misled about what's in them.

Meat-560x337

Photo: Hemera/Thinkstock

Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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More on Meat and Food Safety
Are Huge Meat Recalls Scaring You Vegetarian?
House Passes Huge Cuts to Food Safety
Scientists Grow Meat in a Lab: Crazy, Weird


Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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