Meat Glue: What It Is, And What You Should Know About It

Updated on April 26, 2016
Meat glue has lots of applications
Meat glue has lots of applications | Source

You might have seen the viral videos going around about "meat glue." It's deceptive, it's nasty, and it's potentially deadly. Read on to learn more about why it's used, what it is, and the dangers that it poses.

Well, first to get to why this stuff is used. Corporations and businesses don't want to lose money, and I think we can all relate to that on some level. I know, for one, that all my odd-shaped scraps of wrapping-paper end up being used as gift tags or amalgamated wrappings, for example. Money is money, and everyone has their odd ways of saving it and not wasting things that can be made use of.

Manufacturers, food processors, caterers, and butchers are exactly the same way; the issue is that instead of wrapping-paper scraps, they have meat scraps after trimming and shaping their cuts. They've devised some ways to skirt around the issue of unused cuts of meat by using meat glue to bind the disparate snippets back together again (the end result of which is popularly termed "frankenmeat.")

"Meat glue" is industry standard, and chances are if you eat meat, or even tofu, you're consuming this binding agent on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. And for all you vegetarians and vegans out there, please note: this stuff is not friendly to you and might be in your cheese, dairy, or tofu.

What It Is

Activa (aka transglutaminase)
Activa (aka transglutaminase) | Source
It comes as a white powder
It comes as a white powder | Source

"Meat glue" is scientifically known as transglutaminase, and its brand name is Activa.

Activa is manufactured by the Ajinomoto company, the same lovely folks who have brought us the pervasive neurotoxins aspartame and MSG (monosodium glutamate.) There is little debate within scientific circles as to the neurotoxic effects of these food additives (please see bottom of page for sources.) The jury's still out about transglutaminase, but if you ask me, anyone willing to sell neurotoxins to the public can not and should not be trusted.

Transglutaminase (TG) is an enzyme that helps proteins bind permanently together through the formation of covalent bonds. The TG forms cross-linked, insoluble, and irreversible protein polymers.

Natural examples of these stable polymers are found in blood clots, our skin, and hair.

What's happening chemically: protein-bound lysine + protein-bound glutamine (free amine + carboxamide.)

How It's Made

Blood plasma contains coagulating factors
Blood plasma contains coagulating factors | Source

Most TG is made from the cultivation of bacteria using the blood plasma (clotting factors) from cows and pigs. Some TG is made from cultivating bacteria using vegetable and plant extracts. Most TGs are mixed with other ingredients including gelatin and caseinate (milk derivative.)

The issue? Manufacturers don't have to tell you which method they're using, what type of animal plasma was used (cow, pig), or anything else that most of us would like to know more about. As with most things, the only way you can really know what you're consuming is if you make it yourself.

Depending on how stringent a vegetarian you are, this may or may not ring some bells for you. Vegans, avoid this stuff like the plague. In addition to vegetarians and vegans, Judaism and pork products don't go together, so make sure you're buying kosher cuts. There is a special "kosher" meat glue made just for you.

Meat Glue Video

Different Types Of Transglutaminase

Pork cuts bonded together
Pork cuts bonded together | Source
"Seafood slice"
"Seafood slice" | Source
Lamb and scallops
Lamb and scallops | Source
  • Activa TG-FP: used for beef and pork restructuring. Designed for use with foods high in protein and low in fat. Can be used dry or mixed with water. Useful in products that must include an ingredients list. Contains: transglutaminase, maltodextrin, and skim milk powder.
  • Activa TG-GB: "greatest bond" used for making stronger bonds than the other TGs make, though it can't be mixed with water and has to be added directly. Contains: transglutaminase, maltodextrin, gelatin, and anti-caking agents.
  • Activa TG-GS: used for bonding meats, the difference here is that GS can sit out on the counter all day without going bad (deactivating.) Contains: sodium chloride, gelatin, trisodium phosphate, maltodextrin, transglutaminase, and safflower oil.
  • Activa TG-RM: this is the most commonly used TG. Used for red meat, poultry, seafood, and other muscle foods. Also for use with foods containing low amounts of protein. Can be used dry or mixed with water. Contains: transglutaminase, maltodextrin, and sodium caseinate (milk derivative.)
  • Activa TG-TI: used for textural improvements to foods that naturally contain protein. Can be used dry or mixed with water. Contains: maltodextrin, and double the transglutaminase found in RM or GB.
  • Activa TG-TIU: this is the same as TI, but is the kosher version, and is the only kosher meat glue (transglutaminase) commercially available. Contains: maltodextrin, and double the transglutaminase found in RM or GB.
  • Activa TG-YG: used for thickening and improving texture in dairy products (yogurt and cheese.) Can be added directly into dairy mixtures. Contains: lactose, yeast extract, maltodextrin, vegetable oil, and transglutaminase.

"Restructured" steak cuts
"Restructured" steak cuts | Source

What It's Used For

Chicken nuggets
Chicken nuggets | Source
Imitation crab meat
Imitation crab meat | Source
  • Makes "steaks" out of glued together meat chunks
  • Makes imitation crab meat, chicken nuggets, and fish balls
  • Creates reconstituted steaks, fillets, roasts, and cutlets
  • Makes uniform meat portions that cook evenly and reduce waste
  • Binds meat mixtures (sausages, hot dogs) without using casings
  • Improves mouth feel, water retention, and appearance of processed meats
  • Makes novel meat combinations like lamb and scallops or bacon and beef
  • Makes meat noodles (shrimp noodles) and other cuisine oddities
  • For use in molecular gastronomy
  • Thickens egg yolks
  • Strengthens dough mixtures
  • Thickens dairy products (yogurt, cheese)
  • Increases yield in tofu production

Dangers And Concerns

Bacterial contamination
Bacterial contamination | Source
Food poisoning
Food poisoning | Source
Gluten allergy and Celiac Disease
Gluten allergy and Celiac Disease | Source

Had you heard of meat glue before reading this hub?

See results

The FDA classifies the TG enzyme as GRAS or “generally recognized as safe,” and it's also approved by the USDA. That said, the USDA approves the use of neurotoxins (MSG, aspartame, fluoride), pesticides and herbicides, and growth hormone and antibiotic-injected meats.

Bacterial Contamination:

When multiple pieces of meat are globbed together (potentially from different animals and multiple countries), this can be a hazard. “If there is a bacteria outbreak, it’s much harder to figure out the source when chunks of meat from multiple cows were combined,” says Keith Warriner who teaches food science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Food Poisoning:

The bacterial count in "restructured" meat is extremely high because pieces of meat that were outside pieces are now glued together inside, making them hard to cook thoroughly. “The amount of bacteria on a steak that’s been put together with meat glue is hundreds of times higher,” says microbiologist Glenn Pener. This can lead to food poisoning, dire illness, and even death.

Increased Risk Of Disease:

In addition to an enormous increase in the likelihood of bacterial infections and food poisoning, there's a potential link between consumed TG and common diseases. Though not directly linked to consumption of transglutaminase, there's an increased risk to people who do not regulate the enzyme properly.

For example, when TG is not properly regulated in the body, it's associated with plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s Disease patients; in the development of cataracts in the eyes; arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries); and various skin disorders. [Transglutaminases in Disease, Soo-Youl Kim, et al., Neurochemistry International 40 (2002), 85-103.]

Gluten Allergy And Celiac Disease:

The “glut” of transglutaminase stands for “gluten.” We've recently seen an enormous increase in gluten sensitivity in the US. Might this increase, in part, be due to the continued and "forced" consumption of this enzyme?

Ingested meat glue is not a “self” transglutaminase, and will therefore be recognized by the immune system as foreign. If this leads to your own transglutaminase being determined foreign as well, it could lead to the development of gluten allergy and Celiac (Coeliac) Disease.

Final Thoughts

"You Are What You Eat"
"You Are What You Eat" | Source
Your health is worth it
Your health is worth it | Source
Support local, organic farmers
Support local, organic farmers | Source

Read My Article:

Disgusting Meat Sludge: Do You Know What You're Eating?

People wonder why Alzheimers, allergic reactions, and cancer rates are up. It's time to start reading labels and learning what you're consuming, don't you think? So many people trust their health, and their kids' health, to others. Why?

It's clear that the FDA, USDA, and our governments are more interested in making a buck than in ensuring our safety. It's up to us to ensure that what we put into our bodies is wholesome, free from toxins and other chemicals, and nutritious.

You Are What You Eat:

It's true on a cellular level, even if you've never thought of it that way. Each food item we consume is broken down into its constituent parts. Our cells are fed by these basic components, and cells make everything in our bodies work. We really "are" what we eat, so keep that in mind next time you're stuffing your face with hormone-injected beef, neurotoxic chemicals, and processed "foods."

What We Can Do:

  • Abstain from eating meat, or decrease consumption
  • Raise your own animals and grow your own vegetables
  • Only buy meats and vegetables from local farms and co-ops
  • Only buy organic meats, vegetables, foods, and products
  • Abstain from eating processed foods, or decrease consumption
  • Inform yourself by reading each label of each food you buy
  • Inform yourself by doing online research and reading books
  • Spread the word about health and longevity

Sources & Further Reading

Science-based Articles:

Copyright © 2010 Faceless39. All rights reserved.


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    • profile image

      Lupus? 2 days ago

      Lupus is often characterized as a blood clotting disorder, and people often die of clots who have it. Knowing this, isn't the consumption of this enzyme, a possibility for causing it, or worse, killing you if you've developed it? This explains why I can only eat meat from the price chopper, but the stop n shop makes me throw up!

    • profile image

      Disgusted! 2 days ago

      Isn't Activa a yogurt ?

    • cleoaddams profile image

      Cleo Addams 2 months ago from USA

      Great article!

      I found out about meat glue 6 months after I went Vegetarian. Of course, me discovering meat glue reinforced my decision on becoming Vegetarian even more so.

      The crazy thing is that I've told multiple people about meat glue since then and most of them just say, "If it's approved for use then it must be safe." HA! The FDA is known to approve multiple things for "safe" use that have been proven time and time again to NOT be safe - such as certain FD&C dyes and Aspartame.

      Again, great article. I will be sharing it for sure. :)

    • profile image

      Karen Tubbs, kaytee659 3 months ago

      Had no idea, very interested

    • profile image

      organic habit 2 years ago

      thank you so much sharing this info that we could also share to others don't have any capability of acquiring this vital information.

    • Ayeshafarid profile image

      Ash 2 years ago from USA

      It's a very informative hub and thanks for throwing light on something like meat glue.

    • Ardot profile image

      Ardot 2 years ago from Canada

      Ugh! I thought "real" meat was safe... gluing it together? Meat glue? Nasty!

    • profile image

      Rozalyn Winters 3 years ago

      But HubPages blogs are not promoted as scientific journalism, nor are they required to be such. :-) Blogs can be a jumping-off point for further research, however, via Google Scholar or BadgerLink (if you're from Wisconsin) or a similar scholarly database for other states. I would not even have known meat glue existed, if it hadn't been for this hub. Now I can research further on the topic, which is helpful. Blogs are light reading and can be opinion-based or editorial. Perhaps meat glue has an aura of danger to our writer--to me, it has an aura of grossness! lol ;-p

    • Terence Clark profile image

      Terence Clark 3 years ago from Middleton, Wisconsin

      Rozalyn, I agree for the most part. But with all due respect I find it to be somewhat irresponsible to draft an article that is decidedly against a product but offers precious little in the way of support. This article plays the guilt by association card in several places (USDA says it's safe but they also approve pesticides. *dramatic music*). It attempts to surround it with an aura of danger by suggesting repeatedly that 'the jury is still out' as a justification for worry.

      I'm a full-throated supporter of organic foods. I have my own garden, though admittedly I'm not the best gardener on the planet. I've been vegetarian for several years now and have always followed the general guideline of buying food with the fewest ingredients possible. But I'm also an advocate of good science, and this article is a poor example of that. Advocating caution is one thing, but coming out fully against a product without really giving a reason why isn't particularly solid evidence either. And frankly the food protests without any supporting evidence are exactly why whole food advocates aren't often taken seriously.

    • profile image

      Rozalyn Winters 3 years ago

      Wow! Another great hub! As for Emil's comment--the whole point here is that people should not have to "do some real science research" and educate themselves before eating food; but in the U.S., that is what is required, sadly. People are doing the best they can and sharing what information they have discovered with each other.

      I'd rather consume whole foods--like an organic piece of fruit or a vegetable that I grew myself--THAT is food. Meat glue is not food, and should not be food. Most people probably don't even know when they're eating substances like these (I didn't even know it existed!!) and that is just wrong.

    • profile image

      Emil 3 years ago

      What a bunch oh crackpot people the glut in the name does not stand for gluten cause if it was it wouldn't be use in gluten free bread production which is strictly regulated and as for the danger of our body processing it,the enzyme is deactivated with cooking,do some real science research people and educate yourself before cause the most dangerous sport is jumping to conclusion.

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

      Interesting to read and it makes me even more convinsed to choose my food with care. This don't sound helthy or like something I want to eat.

    • profile image

      Mike D Yu 4 years ago from Cheyenne, Wyoming

      You lost a great deal of credibility when you said there is little debate within scientific circles about the neurotoxic effects of aspartame. You are correct in saying this; however, this consensus is that there is no evidence that there are any effects.

    • Tara McNair profile image

      Tara McNair 5 years ago from All around the world!

      all i can say is OMG!!!!!!!!!! i never heard of this before and it make me absolutely sick that companies can do this!! wtf is wrong with them they don't give a fuck about people just money!! And to me the sickest thing is we as a nation just accept this -_- appalling

    • Marynes Pastrana profile image

      Marynes Pastrana 5 years ago


    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 5 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      The Girls, I agree that the meat glue would look totally natural if you didn't know it was there. It blends in really well, but luckily when you know what to look for, it's fairly easy to spot.

      Timothy, Good point about buying whole chickens and large cuts of meat. Unfortunately many people won't have the storage for that, but for those who do, it's a great idea. Another healthy option is to eat more veggies.

      Thanks for the awesome comments!

    • Timothy Donnelly profile image

      Timothy Donnelly 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great article! And to think that the uninformed or careless have been duped into paying a premium for "Well-marbled and aged" steak. Too much! It goes to say that one ought to buy a whole chicken, and half-a-cow at a time, then at least you have a better chance of getting what you believe you are paying for! Rated Thumb UP, and Interesting.

    • the girls profile image

      the girls 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Very good information. The meat glue looks natural to an untrained eye, like me. I also believe lesser chemical intake is healthier for the body. Great hub!

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 5 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Thanks for all the comments and shares.

      @Johnwindbell, it's all over the blogosphere, which is where I was familiarized with the idea. Sorry.

    • johnwindbell profile image

      johnwindbell 5 years ago from - the land of beards and buggies

      Where'd ya get the idea for this hub page? Oh, I know.

    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 5 years ago from SE MA

      Wow. We eat very little meat but I had no idea about this.

    • bmukherjii profile image

      bmukherjii 5 years ago

      You have done a great job..I am sharing this post

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 5 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Thank you very much. But I should point out that organic meats can also contain transglutaminase (meat glue.) The only solution that I know of for sure is to either decrease or eliminate meat from the diet. Thanks for buying organic foods!

    • Ahydz profile image

      Ahydz 5 years ago from Philippines

      Very informative hub! voted up and shared this on my Face Book wall..

    • eye say profile image

      eye say 5 years ago from Canada

      unbelievable - I gotta share!

    • profile image

      Robbie white 6 years ago

      Back to organic meats it's worth peace of mind and the cancer I have definitely came from processes foods meats

    • profile image

      Karen Kane 6 years ago

      Thank's for posting this article-I had already 'stopped' eating meat-now recondidering cottage cheese and greek yogurt! So, basically, fresh fruit and vegetables, 'Organic' ONLY- right ,,,,,

    • Olita profile image

      Olita 6 years ago


      im in shock O_o

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Thank you Sikselement for your honest opinion. Let me assure you that this is not written by a PETA supporter; in fact, I abhor their tactics. I've presented multiple sources from multiple arenas and represented the information I found. As to stirring up a frenzy, all I did was write and publish an article. Thanks for reading and expressing your viewpoints.

    • profile image

      sikselement 6 years ago

      not a thorough article at all first off, and second of all, it is very useful when used correctly. to whomever wrote the article, great job stirring up a frenzy about nothing. please note that everything used to make it is derived from a natural source. do some real research and show all sides of the story rather than standing on you obvious vegetarian pedestal. i wouldn't doubt if this was some PETA propaganda.

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      No, they don't care about anyone. I'm going to take a wild guess and suggest that the meat industry goes hand-in-hand with the pharmaceuticals racket.

      No, I don't believe organic foods will be free from this stuff, unless it's local co-op stuff.

    • profile image

      ninjza 6 years ago

      BTW, organic means nothing when it comes to stuff like this. It can still be used in Certified Organic processed foods.

    • profile image

      James Wright 6 years ago


      ~and it's deadly, ick. God help them.

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Thanks for all the awesome feedback! Hmm this stuff increases the yield (amount produced) of tofu. It sounds like an industry standard with meat, dairy, and tofu. As for organic tofu, I have no idea, but chances are way better that organic doesn't have this stuff (since many companies producing organic foods have a conscience; though now that's it's more commercially available, I'd think twice.)

    • profile image

      Anna 6 years ago

      OMG, I have never heard of this before either! The food industry is truly disturbing! I am vegan and have been for a really long time...I'm confused as to how this is used in tofu? And, is eating organic tofu going to guarantee we don't consume this stuff??

      Thank you so much for this article, I'm definitely passing it on!

    • profile image

      stormey 6 years ago

      i have never heard of this before. it's a very scary thing. food needs to be left the way GOD intended it to be. good for us!

    • rednickle profile image

      rednickle 6 years ago from New Brunswick Canada

      Ok wow maybe i should not have not read this in the first place due to the uses of the meat glue. But well not knowing would not exactly reduce the risk of the taking in such food items

      Voted up


    • profile image

      Sueswan 6 years ago

      Hi Faceless39

      Awesome hub. I never heard of meat glue before.

      Thank you for sharing this invaluable information.

      Voted up and awesome.

      Happy New Year

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Thanks again for the positive feedback. I'm working on another interesting food-related hub, so keep your eyes peeled!

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 6 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      Brilliant thorough hub! I'm a vegetarian too but as you'll know still have to be wary of gelatine etc. You really need to have your wits about you when buying food. I think much of the time people don't want to think about what is in their food and indeed what happened to it before it appeared as if by magic on their plate! Thanks for such an informative hub.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thanks for the information. Great job on getting all the facts together. Passing this one on.

    • Inspired to write profile image

      Dale J Ovenstone 6 years ago from Wales UK

      Absolutely fantastic information! I love facts about foods that are not brought out into the open for all to decide if it is for them. This article is amazing, your research & the way you put it all together. I certainly know about the dangers of aspartame etc; now you have made me realise the negs about meat glue, which I didn't even know about.

      Thanks so much for sharing. Love your work.

      Regards Dale

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 years ago

      This is astounding. This is why choose to eat organic and natural foods. Thanks for the info

    • anndavis25 profile image

      anndavis25 6 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      This is disturbing. Now I'm afraid to way to lose You have done a very thorough job explaining this. good hub.

      Happy New Year, and happy eating.

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Thanks all, I'm glad that you found it useful. I would definitely rather know than not! But I'm beginning to think nothing the government does will surprise me at this rate..

    • profile image

      leann2800 6 years ago

      This is very alarming. is anything we eat really just plain food anymore? Everything is always so processed. :S Very useful.

    • KevinC9998 profile image

      KevinC9998 6 years ago

      This was a very thorough hub! Thanks and voted up. Kevin

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 6 years ago from Isle of Man

      An excellent article and thank you for making us aware of this. Particularly impressive is your meticulous research and your ability to explain it all so everyone reading it can understand the science behind it too. You have convinced me and I hope more people read this very important hub. Thank you.

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 6 years ago from Sweden

      Great article! I have actually known about this since it first was mentioned. It made my dislike of eating meat even stronger. The way the government and the food industry play with the consumers health is just disgusting.

      I have since many years back avoided to consume any processed foods, just because I know how bad it is for your health. Moreover, I do not miss it at all!

      Thank you for this eye-opening hub!

      Voted up, useful,interesting and awesome!

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Yeah, and it would be a totally different ballgame if they had to (or did) put this "ingredient" on food labels. The thing that's really scary is that they do it so covertly, basically forcing it on the consumer. I see conspiracy theories cropping up all around this..

    • brittanytodd profile image

      Brittany Kennedy 6 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Oh my goodness! I didn't even know this stuff existed! Great work putting all of this information together and explaining its uses, creators and health risks. I will have to watch out when consuming any type of food that includes these adhesives. Yikes! Thank you for sharing, voted up, etc.

    • kenwrites profile image

      Ken Crawford 6 years ago from Yreka, California

      Can we just say, "eeeewwww"? It is amazing the shortcuts and lengths people go to save a dollar or make more money on the bottom line. But it is one thing to purchase a commodity that is unsafe. It's a completely different ballgame though when you start talking about foods we ingest. Thank you for this informative and enlighting article.

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      The sad thing is, even as a vegetarian I need to look out for this meat glue stuff--yuck! I'm all for less government, and less focus on money (more focus on health!) Thanks for the amazing comments! And I agree, Mo; the food industry enjoys our naivete, as does the pharmaceuticals racket, and so on. We need to wise up!

    • Lynda Wells profile image

      Lynda Wells 6 years ago from Sugar Run, PA

      And this is why I raise and butcher as much of my own meat as possible. God I hate shady people screwing with consumers behind their backs.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 6 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Wow! No, I had never heard of meat glue. Thank you for sharing,....I think. Yuck! No, really it is great information and advice. We need to stick to whole foods as much as possible.

      Voted up, interesting, useful, awesome hub.


    • profile image

      Mo Cee 6 years ago

      Great article. As the population grows (in America and the rest of the world), the food industry sees more money to be made. Add into the mix the increase in meal sizes and individual food intake (overweight and obesity at an all time high in US, UK, Australia, etc) and it's no wonder cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other ailments are on the rise like never before. The food industry enjoys very much our blind appetites. Thanks, ey!

    • proudmamma profile image

      proudmamma 6 years ago

      Very informational hub! This is the first time I had even heard of meat glue. You made me look at imitation crab meat in a whole different light! Bookmarked the hub for future reference on reading labels and understanding what I am eating. Thanks for the info!

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 6 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Interesting info...I would never have guessed this existed...and could be so potentially dangerous! Thank you for sharing!