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

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?

  • Yes, just a little
  • Yes, I've read about it / seen videos
  • No, not at all
See results without voting

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.

Comments 54 comments

justateacher profile image

justateacher 4 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!

proudmamma profile image

proudmamma 4 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!

Mo Cee 4 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!

ChaplinSpeaks profile image

ChaplinSpeaks 4 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.


Lynda Wells profile image

Lynda Wells 4 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.

Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

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!

kenwrites profile image

kenwrites 4 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.

brittanytodd profile image

brittanytodd 4 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.

Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

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..

SanneL profile image

SanneL 4 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!

Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 4 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.

KevinC9998 profile image

KevinC9998 4 years ago

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

leann2800 4 years ago

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

Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

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..

anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 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.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

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

Inspired to write profile image

Inspired to write 4 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

Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

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

Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 4 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.

Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

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

Sueswan 4 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

rednickle profile image

rednickle 4 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


stormey 4 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!

Anna 4 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!

Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

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.)

James Wright 4 years ago


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

ninjza 4 years ago

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

Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

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.

sikselement 4 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 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

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.

Olita profile image

Olita 4 years ago


im in shock O_o

Karen Kane 4 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 ,,,,,

Robbie white 4 years ago

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

eye say profile image

eye say 4 years ago from Canada

unbelievable - I gotta share!

Ahydz profile image

Ahydz 4 years ago from Philippines

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

Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

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!

bmukherjii profile image

bmukherjii 4 years ago

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

Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 4 years ago from SE MA

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

johnwindbell profile image

johnwindbell 4 years ago from - the land of beards and buggies

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

Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

Thanks for all the comments and shares.

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

the girls profile image

the girls 4 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!

Timothy Donnelly profile image

Timothy Donnelly 4 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.

Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

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!

Marynes Pastrana profile image

Marynes Pastrana 3 years ago


Tara McNair profile image

Tara McNair 3 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

Mike D Yu 3 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.

kerlund74 profile image

kerlund74 2 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.

Emil 2 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.

Rozalyn Winters 2 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.

Terence Clark profile image

Terence Clark 2 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.

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