Call Kurtis: What is Meat Glue And Is It Safe?

We’ve heard of pink slime, but now we’re hearing of something called meat glue.

Some are wondering if that steak they ordered is a quality piece of meat or just some scraps held together with a white powder formally known as Transglutaminase. The enzyme can “glue” smaller cuts of meat to create Frankenstein steaks that resemble expensive filet mignon.

The FDA says meat glue is “generally recognized as safe” when properly used, but some say meat scraps exposed to bacteria may end up in the middle of the meat. The concern is that when cooked, the middle of the steak won’t be hot enough to kill off potential organisms.

“If you are doing it real fast and you do not have any exposure to the outside air for a long period of time, I can’t really see a problem. But you don’t know,” said chef Matt Lynn of the Culinary Institute Lenotre.

The America Meat Institute says meat glue is safe and natural, quoting recent comments made by Dana Hanson, Ph.D. of North Carolina State University’s Food Science Department, who has studied the issue.

“It is certainly an ingredient that is safe for consumers to consume and it certainly doesn’t have merit, the concern that some online videos have generated,” she said.

The organization admits Transglutaminase helps add value to smaller cuts of meat that on their own might have less value and prevents waste while maintaining value. All packaged meat products that use “meat glue” should be labeled as “formed or shaped” and have Transglutaminase listed in the ingredients.

There’s no way to know for sure if a restaurant is using it unless you ask.

The American Meat Institute has created a Frequently Asked Questions web page.

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