I'm a dental hygienist, pyrography artist, avid gardener, writer, vegetarian, world traveler, and many other things!
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 is Meat Glue?
"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 aspartame and MSG (monosodium glutamate.) There is a raging debate within scientific circles as to the potential neurotoxic effects of these synthetically-manufactured food additives. The jury's still out about transglutaminase, but "caveat emptor!" An increasing number of studies show a link between synthetic TG and deleterious effects on the brain and body.
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 is Meat Glue Made?
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. TG is often used to increase yields in tofu production. 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.
Video: Meat Glue
Types of Transglutaminase
- 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.
What It's Used For
- 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
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 (aspartame, fluoride), pesticides and herbicides, and growth hormone and antibiotic-injected meats.
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.
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.
People wonder why Alzheimer's, 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, nutritious, and is free from toxins and other chemicals.
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, and therefore it's so important to buy our foods very thoughtfully.
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 and Further Reading
1. Aaron, L., & Torsten, M. (2019, February). Microbial Transglutaminase: A New Potential Player in Celiac Disease. Journal of Clinical Immunology;199:37-43. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30543926
2. Ajinomoto Food Ingredients: Enhancement Products. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2011, from https://www.ajifoodsolutions.com/products/
3. Barua, J., & Bal, A. (1995). Emerging Facts About Aspartame. Retrieved January 1, 2011, from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b25b/2a946150b366fa0ab408b54a0ff60c203769.pdf
4. Baugreet, S., Kerry, J. P., Allen, P., Gallagher, E., & Hamill, R. M. (2018, May 14). Physicochemical Characteristics of Protein-Enriched Restructured Beef Steaks with Phosphates, Transglutaminase, and Elasticised Package Forming. Journal of Food Quality;2018:1-11. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jfq/2018/4737602
5. Baugreet, S., Kerry, J. P., Brodkorb, A., Gomez, C., Auty, M., Allen, P., & Hamill, R. M. (2018, August). Optimisation of Plant Protein and Transglutaminase Content in Novel Beef Restructured Steaks for Older Adults by Central Composite Design. Journal of Meat Science;142:65-77. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29680710
6. Blaylock, R. L., MD. (2006, March 18). Aspartame Is An Excitoneurotoxic Carcinogenic Drug! Retrieved January 1, 2011, from http://www.redicecreations.com/specialreports/2006/03mar/aspartamedangers.html
7. Chan, S. K., & Lim, T. S. (2019, April). Bioengineering of Microbial Transglutaminase for Biomedical Applications. European Journal of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology;103(7):2973-2984. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30805670
8. Chen, C., Takahashi, K., Geonzon, L., Okazaki, E., & Osako, K. (2019, August 30). Texture Enhancement of Salted Alaska Pollock (Theragra Chalcogramma) Roe Using Microbial Transglutaminase. Journal of Food Chemistry;290:196-200. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31000037
9. Choudhary, A. K., & Pretorius, E. (2017, September 01). Revisiting the Safety of Aspartame. Nutrition Reviews;75(9):718-730. Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28938797
10. De Almeida, M. A., Villanueva, N. D., Gonçalves, J. R., & Contreras-Castillo, C. J. (2015, May). Quality Attributes and Consumer Acceptance of New Ready-To-Eat Frozen Restructured Chicken. Journal of Food Science and Technology;52(5):2869-77. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25892785
11. De Palma, G., Apostoli, P., Mistrello, G., Zenotta, S., & Bertorelli, G. (2014, June). Microbial Transglutaminase: A New and Emerging Occupational Allergen. Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology;112(6):553-554. Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.academia.edu/22275311/Microbial_transglutaminase_a_new_and_emerging_occupational_allergen
12. Dekking, E. H., Van Veelen, P. A., De Ru, A., Cooy-Winkelaar, E., Groneveld, T., Nieuwenhuizen, W., & Koning, F. (2007, June 05). Microbial Transglutaminases Generate T Cell Stimulatory Epitopes Involved in Celiac Disease. Journal of Cereal Science;47(2):339-346. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0733521007000847?via=ihub
13. Gaspar, A. L., & De Goes-Favoni, S. P. (2015, March 15). Action of Microbial Transglutaminase (MTGase) in the Modification of Food Proteins: A Review. Journal of Food Chemistry;171:315-22. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=25308675
14. Hollon, J., Puppa, E. L., Greenwald, B., Goldberg, E., Guerrerio, A., & Fasano, A. (2015, February 27). Effect of Gliadin on Permeability of Intestinal Biopsy Explants from Celiac Disease Patients and Patients with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Journal of Nutrients;7(3):1565-76. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=25734566
15. Jacobberger, T. (2011, May 13). Is There Meat Glue in Your Food? Retrieved July 1, 2011, from https://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2011/05/13/is-there-meat-glue-in-your-food/
16. Jira, W., Sadeghi-Mehr, A., Brüggemann, D. A., & Schwägele, F. (2017, July). Production of Dry-Cured Formed Ham with Different Concentrations of Microbial Transglutaminase: Mass Spectrometric Analysis and Sensory Evaluation. Journal of Meat Science;129:81-87. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28267644
17. Jira, W., & Schwägele, F. (2017, December 15). A Sensitive Hplc-Ms/Ms Method for the Simultaneous Detection of Microbial Transglutaminase, and Bovine and Porcine Fibrinogen/Thrombin in Restructured Meat. Journal of Food Chemistry;237:841-848. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28764076
18. Kaufmann, A., Köppel, R., & Widmer, M. (2012). Determination of Microbial Transglutaminase in Meat and Meat Products. Journal of Food Additives & Contaminants;29(9):1364-73. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=22747363
19. Kieliszek, M., & Misiewicz, A. (2014, May). Microbial Transglutaminase and Its Application in the Food Industry. A Review. Folia Microbiologica;59(3):241-50. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=24198201
20. Kim, S., Jeitner, T. M., & Steinert, P. M. (2001, December 01). Transglutaminases in Disease. Neurochemistry International;40(1):85-103. Retrieved January 1, 2011, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019701860100064X
21. Kuraishi, C., Nakagoshi, H., Tanno, H., & Tanaka, H. (2007, September 02). Hydrocolloids;2(2000):281-285. Application of Transglutaminase for Food Processing. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780444501783500962
22. Kuraishi, C., Sakamoto, J., Yamazaki, K., & Susa, Y. (2006, July). Production of Restructured Meat Using Microbial Transglutaminase Without Salt or Cooking. Journal of Food Science;62(3):488-490. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/229671211_Production_of_Restructured_Meat_using_Microbial_Transglutaminase_without_Salt_or_Cooking
23. Li, Q., Gui, P., Huang, Z., Feng, L., & Luo, Y. (2018, February). Effect of Transglutaminase on Quality and Gel Properties of Pork and Fish Mince Mixtures. Journal of Texture Studies;49(1):56-64. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28581064
24. Lerner, A., & Matthias, T. (2015, June). Changes in Intestinal Tight Junction Permeability Associated with Industrial Food Additives Explain the Rising Incidence of Autoimmune Disease. Autoimmunity Reviews;14(6):479-89. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=25676324
25. Lerner, A., & Matthias, T. (2015, August). Possible Association Between Celiac Disease and Bacterial Transglutaminase in Food Processing: A Hypothesis. Nutrition Review;73(8):544-52. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=26084478
26. Lerner, A., Aminov, R., & Matthias, T. (2017, January 24). Transglutaminases in Dysbiosis as Potential Environmental Drivers of Autoimmunity. Frontiers in Microbiology;8:66. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=28174571
27. Lerner, A., & Matthias, T. (2015, January 23). Food Industrial Microbial Transglutaminase in Celiac Disease: Treat or Trick. International Journal of Celiac Disease;3(1):1-6. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from http://pubs.sciepub.com/ijcd/3/1/10/index.html
28. Lerner, A., Neidhofer, S., & Matthias, T. (2015). Transglutaminase 2 and Anti Transglutaminase 2 Autoantibodies in Celiac Disease and Beyond: TG2 Double-Edged Sword: Gut and Extraintestinal Involvement. Immunome Research;11(3). Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289585653_Transglutaminase_2_and_Anti_Transglutaminase_2_Autoantibodies_in_Celiac_Disease_and_Beyond_TG2_Double-Edged_Sword_Gut_and_Extraintestinal_Involvement
29. Lorand, L., & Iismaa, S. E. (2019, January). Transglutaminase Diseases: From Biochemistry to the Bedside. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology;33(1):3-12. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30593123
30. Malandain, H. (2005, December). Transglutaminases: A Meeting Point for Wheat Allergy, Celiac Disease, and Food Safety. European Annals of Allergy and Clinical Immunology;37(10):397-403. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/16528904
31. Mancuso, C., & Barisani, D. (2019, April 26). Food Additives Can Act as Triggering Factors in Celiac Disease: Current Knowledge Based on a Critical Review of the Literature. World Journal of Clinical Cases;7(8):917–927. Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6509268/
32. Matthias, T., Jeremias, P., Neidhöfer, S., & Lerner, A. (2016, December). The Industrial Food Additive, Microbial Transglutaminase, Mimics Tissue Transglutaminase and Is Immunogenic in Celiac Disease Patients. Autoimmunity Reviews;15(12):1111-1119. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=27640315
33. Moreno, H. M., Herranz, B., Pérez-Mateos, M., Sánchez-Alonso, I., & Borderías, J. A. (2016). New Alternatives in Seafood Restructured Products. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition;56(2):237-48. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25000341
34. Paolini, M., Vivarelli, F., Sapone, A., & Canistro, D. (2017, December 07). Aspartame, a Bittersweet Pill. Carcinogenesis;38(12):1249-1250. Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26912665
35. Rachel, N. M., & Pelletier, J. N. (2013, October 22). Biotechnological Applications of Transglutaminases. Biomolecules;3(4):870-88. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=24970194
36. Reif, S., & Lerner, A. (2004, January). Tissue Transglutaminase--The Key Player in Celiac Disease: A Review. Autoimmunity Reviews;3(1):40-5. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=14871648
37. Restructured Steak. (2010, December 15). Retrieved July 1, 2011, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restructured_steak
38. Rycerz, K., & Jaworska-Adamu, J. E. (2013). Effects of Aspartame Metabolites on Astrocytes and Neurons. Folia Neuropathologica;51(1):10-7. Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23553132
39. Setiadi, Sah, W. I., & Alisha, N. (2018, Nov 26). The Influences of Transglutaminase Enzyme Dosage on the Meat Characteristic from Restructuring the Animal and Vegetable Protein Sources. E3S Web of Conferences;67(03043). Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.e3s-conferences.org/articles/e3sconf/pdf/2018/42/e3sconf_i-trec2018_03043.pdf
40. Santhi, D., Kalaikannan, A., Malairaj, P., & Arun, S. (2017, July 03). Application of Microbial Transglutaminase in Meat Foods: A Review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition;57(10):2071-2076. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=25897817
41. Soffritti, M., Belpoggi, F., Tibaldi, E., Esposti, D. D., & Lauriola, M. (2007, September). Life-Span Exposure to Low Doses of Aspartame Beginning During Prenatal Life Increases Cancer Effects in Rats. Environmental Health Perspectives;115(9):1293-7. Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17805418
42. Soffritti, M., Padovani, M., Tibaldi, E., Falcioni, L., Manservisi, F., & Belpoggi, F. (2014). The Carcinogenic Effects of Aspartame: The Urgent Need for Regulatory Re-Evaluation. American Journal of Industrial Medicine;57(4). Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/aspartame%20Soffritti%20analysis%201-14%20clean%20copy.pdf
43. Sorapukdee, S., & Tangwatcharin, P. (2018, January). Quality of Steak Restructured from Beef Trimmings Containing Microbial Transglutaminase and Impacted by Freezing and Grading by Fat Level. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences;31(1):129-137. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28728404
44. Spinedi, E., Johnston, C., & Negro-Vilar, A. (1984, July 01). Increased Responsiveness of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary Axis after Neurotoxin-Induced Hypothalamic Denervation. Journal of Endocrinology;115(1):267–272. Retrieved January 1, 2011, from https://academic.oup.com/endo/article-abstract/115/1/267/2538658?redirectedFrom=fulltext
45. Stricker, S., De, J., Rudloff, S., Komorowski, L., & Zimmer, K. P. (2019, March). Intracellular Localization of Microbial Transglutaminase and Its Influence on the Transport of Gliadin in Enterocytes. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition;68(3):e43-e50. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=30320664
46. Transglutaminase. (2018, August 07). Retrieved July 1, 2011, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transglutaminase
47. Wolinsky, H., & Husted, K. (2015, March). Science for Food: Molecular Biology Contributes to the Production and Preparation of Food. European Molecular Biology Organization Reports;16(3):272-275. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4364866
48. Zeeb, B., McClements, D. J., & Weiss, J. (2017, February 28). Enzyme-Based Strategies for Structuring Foods for Improved Functionality. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology;8:21-34. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28068492
49. Zhu, Y., Rinzema, A., Tramper, J., & Bol, J. (1995, December). Microbial Transglutaminase: A Review of Its Production and Application in Food Processing. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology;44(3-4):277-282. Retrieved January 1, 2011, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00169916
Questions & Answers
Question: After I eat steak I get restless legs. Could this be the culprit?
Answer: There are so many factors, who knows? But animal protein of any kind is notoriously highly inflammatory to the body, so it may be exacerbating otherwise dormant diseases.
Question: Is there meat glue in the meat we buy at major chain grocery stores?
Answer: The use of meat glue is standard practice throughout the meat industry. Will you find it in grocery store meats? You bet. Will you find it in the meat from your local farmer? Probably not.
Question: Can organic meat and tofu contain meat glue?
Answer: So far I haven't found any sign of "organic transglutaminase" on the market, so organics may be a safer bet as far as meat glue avoidance goes. But it's hard to find any information specific to it. It's an unknown, but organic is always the better bet when between a rock and a hard place.
Question: I have read several articles online that state that transglutamatine is banned in the EU and the UK, among other countries. However, I am finding it difficult to confirm this. Has anything changed since you wrote this article in 2011? I have just discovered that I have bought Gravidlax slices containing transglutaminase. I had intended to return them after reading the articles but I don't want to go in with guns blazing unless the statements are true.
Answer: On May 20, 2010, the European Parliament voted to ban bovine and porcine thrombin used as an additive to bind separate pieces of meat together into one piece. According to European Union lawmakers, the additives, which are commonly called “meat glue,” have no proven benefits” and create products that “carry an unacceptably high risk of misleading consumers” instead.
Another consideration EU lawmakers considered was the higher risk of bacterial infection in meat products created with thrombin, due to the larger surface area of meat and the cold bonding process that is used.
The decision not to authorize meat glue as an additive rejects an earlier European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) positive safety opinion on the use of ‘meat glue’ in 2005.
Meat glue is an enzyme composed of thrombin and fibrogen, obtained from blood plasma. It can be used by the meat industry as a food additive for reconstituting fresh meat to create a product of desirable size and form. The method can also be applied to poultry, fish, and seafood.
The Parliament estimated that there is “a clear risk that meat containing thrombin would find its way into meat products served in restaurants or other public establishments serving food, given the higher prices that can be obtained for pieces of meat served as a single meat product”.
© 2011 Kate P
Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on October 08, 2019:
Really disgusting! I generally only buy organic tofu, and live in Canada, so am hoping that this transglutimase hasn't made it into my diet..... but what about my meat-eating granddaughters, all the little children out there? Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
Chris on January 20, 2019:
Msg is found naturally in many vegetables.
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on November 21, 2018:
@nes, Only if we let them! The thing is, most people blindly follow along and don't take an active enough role in their own health and well being. They "trust" corporation$ with their life and then blame them when they get screwed over by them. It's kind of dumb. Every person is responsible for his/her own health.
nes on November 21, 2018:
They are killing us slowly for $$$$
Lupus? on January 20, 2018:
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!
Disgusted! on January 20, 2018:
Isn't Activa a yogurt ?
Cleo Addams from USA on October 29, 2017:
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. :)
Karen Tubbs, kaytee659 @comcast.net on October 21, 2017:
Had no idea, very interested
organic habit on July 05, 2015:
thank you so much sharing this info that we could also share to others don't have any capability of acquiring this vital information.
Ash from USA on June 21, 2015:
It's a very informative hub and thanks for throwing light on something like meat glue.
Ardot from Canada on February 15, 2015:
Ugh! I thought "real" meat was safe... gluing it together? Meat glue? Nasty!
Rozalyn Winters on July 17, 2014:
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 from Middleton, Wisconsin on July 11, 2014:
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.
Rozalyn Winters on June 11, 2014:
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.
Emil on April 18, 2014:
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 from Sweden on February 19, 2014:
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.
Mike D Yu from Cheyenne, Wyoming on March 07, 2013:
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 from All around the world! on November 19, 2012:
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 on November 15, 2012:
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on July 16, 2012:
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 from Ontario, Canada on July 16, 2012:
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.
Theresa Ventu from Los Angeles, California on June 30, 2012:
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!
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on April 23, 2012:
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 from - the land of beards and buggies on April 23, 2012:
Where'd ya get the idea for this hub page? Oh, I know.
Tony Lawrence from SE MA on February 11, 2012:
Wow. We eat very little meat but I had no idea about this.
bmukherjii on February 09, 2012:
You have done a great job..I am sharing this post
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on February 08, 2012:
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 from Philippines on February 05, 2012:
Very informative hub! voted up and shared this on my Face Book wall..
eye say from Canada on February 05, 2012:
unbelievable - I gotta share!
Robbie white on January 16, 2012:
Back to organic meats it's worth peace of mind and the cancer I have definitely came from processes foods meats
Karen Kane on January 13, 2012:
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 on January 12, 2012:
im in shock O_o
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on January 08, 2012:
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.
sikselement on January 07, 2012:
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.
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on January 07, 2012:
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.
ninjza on January 06, 2012:
BTW, organic means nothing when it comes to stuff like this. It can still be used in Certified Organic processed foods.
James Wright on January 06, 2012:
OMG!!! THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU!!! THESE PEOPLE WOULD SELL YOU CANDY FLAVORED POISON IF IT MADE THEM MONEY!!
~and it's deadly, ick. God help them.
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on January 05, 2012:
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.)
Anna on January 05, 2012:
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!
stormey on January 05, 2012:
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 from New Brunswick Canada on January 04, 2012:
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
Sueswan on January 02, 2012:
Awesome hub. I never heard of meat glue before.
Thank you for sharing this invaluable information.
Voted up and awesome.
Happy New Year
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on January 01, 2012:
Thanks again for the positive feedback. I'm working on another interesting food-related hub, so keep your eyes peeled!
Tara Carbery from Cheshire, UK on January 01, 2012:
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 from Daytona Beach, Florida on January 01, 2012:
Thanks for the information. Great job on getting all the facts together. Passing this one on.
Dale J Ovenstone from South Wales UK on January 01, 2012:
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.
Dianna Mendez on December 31, 2011:
This is astounding. This is why choose to eat organic and natural foods. Thanks for the info
anndavis25 from Clearwater, Fl. on December 31, 2011:
This is disturbing. Now I'm afraid to eat...one way to lose weight..lol. You have done a very thorough job explaining this. good hub.
Happy New Year, and happy eating.
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on December 31, 2011:
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..
leann2800 on December 31, 2011:
This is very alarming. is anything we eat really just plain food anymore? Everything is always so processed. :S Very useful.
KevinC9998 on December 31, 2011:
This was a very thorough hub! Thanks and voted up. Kevin
Xavier Nathan from Isle of Man on December 31, 2011:
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 from Sweden on December 31, 2011:
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!
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on December 30, 2011:
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..
Brittany Kennedy from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on December 30, 2011:
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.
Ken Crawford from Yreka, California on December 30, 2011:
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.
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on December 30, 2011:
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 from Sugar Run, PA on December 30, 2011:
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.
Sarah Johnson from Charleston, South Carolina on December 30, 2011:
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.
Mo Cee on December 30, 2011:
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!
Cindi from Parkersburg on December 30, 2011:
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!
LaDena Campbell from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz... on December 30, 2011:
Interesting info...I would never have guessed this existed...and could be so potentially dangerous! Thank you for sharing!