Meat is meat, right? When you order a steak, you’re eating a cut of beef from a cow, right? Well then, what in the world is “meat glue”? The term is being used to describe something called transglutaminase – an invention of scientists that you may be now be ingesting unknowingly. Transglutaminase, TGase or even TG to those in the know, is a compound that can be added to meat and creates a reaction between its molecules.
The science behind it is this, according to the website Cooking Issues: “TG is a naturally occurring enzyme in plants, animals, and bacteria. Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts in chemical reactions; they speed up reactions and make reactions occur that otherwise wouldn’t,” Cooking Issues reports. “TG bonds protein molecules together with a very strong (covalent) bond by linking two amino acids: glutamine and lysine.” The linking of these amino acids makes the meat stick together in ways that it may not have before. What is the result of this, then?
The result is that separate pieces of meat can now be made to stick together to appear as if they are one piece. When you order a steak – say a sirloin, filet mignon, or medallion – you assume you’re getting that one piece of meat, but what if the restaurant had tricked you? It would be possible now for the restaurant to put various cuts of meat, even scrap pieces into a vacuum pack with TG and fuse it all together. The meat glue is that good at its job.
It is possible for these “mock filets” to look as real as the originals, but in actual fact, they may just be cheap scraps of meat glued together. In this scenario a restaurant may be able to make a lot of money off its customers by selling cheap meat that looks like high end meat! Be careful though – it gets worse.
The Huffington Post reports that such a practice, while it is harmful to your wallet, may also be harmful for your health. They said, “the outside of a piece of meat comes in contact with a lot of bacteria making its way from slaughterhouse to table. Usually cooking a steak on the outside will kill all that off. The center of a single cut of steak is sterile, that’s why you can eat it rare. But glued pieces of meat could contain bacteria like E. coli on the inside.”
Be careful then! A video online shows how, with vacuum packing and refrigeration, a chef is able to turn cheap scraps of meat into something that resembles a high cut of steak almost exactly. The danger is out there – always make sure your meat is well cooked if you are uncertain of where it comes from. And if you’re going out for a steak dinner, make sure to choose a place you trust because meat glue is not fair to you as a customer or to you as a healthy individual. Stay informed and stay safe!