May 22nd, 2012
12:30 PM ET
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Via KTRK

Also creepy-sounding, but not actually harmful or especially weird: sodium stearoyl lactylate, xanthan gum, soy lecithin and more. Read 6 scary-sounding food additives – and what they really are

A bit more on Transglutaminase (a.k.a. "meat glue") from the smart folks at the French Culinary Institute's blog "Cooking Issues"



soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. jon

    The whole point that people want the establishment and the food industry to hear is we are sick of "Frankenstein food" made with chemicals and artificial lab created processes. Just give us regular food without all the cancer causing agents and treatments. There is enough cancer and obesity in the world to prove that our food supply is suspect

    May 26, 2012 at 5:08 am |
  2. aj

    They used to make glue from horses. I don't see how this is news.

    May 25, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  3. ACheek

    Buy the whole tenderloin; sure it's about $100 but there will be no meat glue. Also get your wife to flirt with the butcher. Beef tenderloin @5 bucks a pound? Do it babe.

    May 24, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  4. Heston2012

    Good Info to know.
    Nothing like a Porter House Steak with trimmings HMMMM!

    May 24, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  5. Richard

    I really wish we would find some way in the animal meat industry to keep people from naming certain products such names. Before to long some scientist wherever will do a study with rats and say that it causes cancer or something and then there goes another industry. Just call it what it is and not anything else that way there is no confusion. Yeah if you eat this particular meat you should cook it very well and make sure the internal temp reaches a level to kill anything that could harm you but other than that its not going to hurt you or anybody else.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Andrew

      Richard, the whole point behind these noxious names is to frighten or gross people out. They're dreamed up by people who object to meat eating and their aim is to harm the industry. They prey on the crazy tendency of the more squeamish but vocal segment of the public to be terrified of our modern day food options. It's a cynical but effective propaganda tactic to push a socio-political agenda that would otherwise be ignored or even rejected out of hand by the general public.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
      • Huh

        Why is questioning what's in our food supply "harming the industry"? Gosh, how dare we? You can call it by its scientific name or "meat glue," or "scraps stuck together," I still think we have a right to know what's in our food supply.

        May 24, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  6. Scarf

    I'm a pathologist. When we cut an organ to take a photo of the inside, sometimes we're off a little bit, thus making th specimen less photogentic. So we use superglue to glue the organ back together and then take another crack at putting the cut exactly where we want it.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Fascinating! The same kind of enzyme, or does it need to be faster-acting than that?

      May 23, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  7. SixDegrees

    I've been thinking of getting some of this for a few months. Last Thanksgiving, I took the breasts off a turkey, laid them end to end with some herb filling in between, trussed it and roasted it. It was great, but the seam between the two breasts was problematic while assembling it and while serving. This sounds like the solution.

    May 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  8. Fed Up

    Using meat scraps and fillers have been going on for nearly a hundred years. It's now "timely" and relevant? Where was the FDA and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture during previous years? I'll tell you where... bought for a handsome price tag and at the expense of the American taxpayer. These agencies are highly funded and very lazy.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  9. Renee Marie Jones

    It does not matter if it is safe. It is dishonest. You think you are buying a cut of meat, and what they sell you instead is a bunch of little trimmings glued together. It is dishonest. It is immoral. It is wrong.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • what?

      I doubt that anybody is gluing "a bunch of little pieces" together for a retail product. The enzyme isn't particularly cheap, the process isn't particularly fast, and there are strict labeling requirements that make this stand out like a sore thumb.

      I can't vouch for what happens in a restaurant, because I don't know.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
      • Janet Riley

        You are correct. It's not.

        May 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
      • ex-meatpacker

        sure they are. we used to glue together sirloin and tenderloin scraps to make filets. you fill up giant tube with the scraps and glue and let it set, then cut into filets. it smells like tuna salad or sometimes cat food. we would also cut sirloin round shaped and it was sold as tenderloin filets.
        and this is what you might get when you go to a restaurant. we packed tons of steaks shipped out to chains all over the US. they knew what they were buying but when you go there as a patron the restaurant can call it whatever they want and charge you $50

        May 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
      • chrisklob

        I recently left a very nice restaurant that experimented with meat glue for a short time. The tails of filet mignon were used to create larger cuts that could be sold as a center cut piece of filet mignon. It was very hard to tell the difference between the product with meat glue from that without it - even for the most experienced chefs. I really doubt that very many consumers would know the difference either. After a short time, the process was discontinued as it was deemed to be unethical. But you better believe that there are plenty of other places trying to save a few bucks.

        May 23, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  10. Janet Riley

    I am with the American Meat Institute and I hope this information is helpful.

    I think the CNN piece was highly on point. We cannot somehow "glue" stew meat together and pretend it's a steak or filet mignon as some commenters suggest. If such a practice were done in a plant, that would be illegal under federal meat inspection laws. We have federal inspectors present in plants every day. If a restaurant attempted it, it would be a violation of consumer protection laws. And if a consumer tried to eat stew meat that had been shaped to look like a steak or filet, trust me - they'd know. Stew meat is not intended to be thrown on a grill or broiled. It requires different cooking methods; the difference would be noticeable and likely create a very unsatified customer.

    In addition, when these enzymes are used, they must be included in the ingredient statement. The label would also indicate that the product is "formed" or "reformed."

    USDA has indicated that these products need to be cooked to 145 degrees F. with a three minute rest time. That translates to rare.

    Hope that clarifies. Feel free to contact American Meat Institute for more information. Janet Riley

    May 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Lulu

      According to my cook books, rare is 120 to 125. 140 is Medium. I don't eat medium.

      May 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
      • SixDegrees

        The FDA has its own guidelines for doneness. Although most chefs find them excessive, they have the advantage of being a standard.

        May 24, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • Michele Hays @QuipsTravails

      Are you certain this isn't being done with any beef? What checks and balances exist to ensure that meat processors, retailers and restaurants aren't doing what's in their best financial interests?

      Regulation and labeling is all I want – but I'd like some assurances that it's actually happening.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  11. Bill

    The spokesperson used in your live TV segment to explain what Meat Glue is and substantiate it being a safe additive left me with the reality I had just been lied to. She was utterly unprepared to open her mouth and attempt to qualm any fears we may have about Meat Glue. Absolutely the most unconvincing individual I've ever seen trying to explain something! Surely CNN can do better than this!?

    May 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Hi Bill,

      That person was me, and I'm not a spokesperson. I'm the editor of this site, and I went on the show to present the facts - not sway anyone on one direction or the other. I explained what the process does and what concerns people might have about it, including the risk of bacteria and that people might feel they'd been cheated or lied to.

      The only place I've seen alarm raised (and I've consulted with a lot of experts) is in headlines saying "should you be afraid of meat glue?" The consensus is that no, this is hardly on the order of "pink slime," mad cow or e. coli. It's mostly got a bad nickname, and I *do* believe that products should be labeled when there's been any processing done and I said so. Sometimes there honestly is no need for panic.

      Otherwise, I'm not out to further anyone's agenda - just share the facts. I'm curious what you'd like to see.

      Kat Kinsman - Managing Editor, Eatocracy

      May 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
      • consumer advocate

        I believe you are down-playing the risks associated with E-Coli and other bacteria in the former outer surfaces of these "Frankensteaks'. The recommended internal temperature for WHOLE cuts of beef, lamb, veal, and pork is 145 degrees with a three minute rest; ground beef, which these glued steaks are closer to physically, have a recommended internal temperature of 160 degrees. I, like many other consumers, prefer a lower internal temperature for my steaks but would never order a burger even "medium" as the risks of food poisoning are too high. While the meat glue itself isn't doesn't appear to present a heightened risk, the outer surfaces of these bit of meat that are joined together in the interior of a steak certainly do.

        May 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  12. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    I glued a badger and a wolverine together once. That WAS scary.

    May 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  13. sam stone

    I am a vegetarian, so this all amuses me

    May 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • required

      aren't you special? had to get on here and let the world know just how special. you must be one insecure little puppy.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Bob Hope's Ghost

      with what Monsanto & Mallinkrodt does with vegetables, I wouldn't be so high and mighty if I were you.

      May 23, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Lulu

      You have my sympathy.

      May 23, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  14. Michele Hays @QuipsTravails

    The issue isn't that meat glue is scary in and of itself – there are two primary issues with how meat glue is used:

    1. It can be used to defraud the public by gluing cheap meat scraps into a "steak" and selling it at steak prices. "Stew meat" is cheaper than steak for a reason, one of those reasons is that you are paying for a slice of whole muscle. Somehow, the beef industry keeps insisting that it's "all beef" in these situations, even though people notice textural differences and there is, in fact, a difference.

    2. When meat glue is used, it means that the surface area (prone to more contamination) isn't all on the outside where the heat source is – so meat-glued "steaks" cooked rare leave consumers significantly more susceptible to food poisoning.

    So, yes, I'd like there to be required labeling for meat-glued products, both so I know not to pay more for them, and so I know not to eat them rare. The glue itself is no more problematic than using flour and water to stick a piecrust together.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • what?

      It's required to be labeled now. It must be listed as an ingredient in the ingredients statement. The 'name' of the product must state that it is a "formed" product (or something to that effect), so if you buy a filet that consists of 2 bonded pieces, then it must be labeled as a "Formed beef tenderloin steak" or a "formed beef filet mignon". This isn't new.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
      • Kat Kinsman

        The issue here is that the formed meat is generally served at banquet halls and restaurants - which aren't about disclose that to their customers up front. If a customer really wants to know, they have to pipe up. If vendors don't hear it from their customers, they're not going to alter their behavior.

        I'm pro label-reading and asking. I can decide my comfort level in each case (I'm mostly good with meat glue, but not with ammonium hydroxide-treated ground meat and there are a few other things I ask about), but I shouldn't have to beg to be told up front.

        May 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
        • Michele Hays @QuipsTravails

          Maybe the answer is regulating the substance itself: if you work with meat, and are buying Transglutaminase, you need to prove you are disclosing that to your customers whether or not it's in the products you are serving them.

          Again, no problem with the idea (here's a post about a very cool use of the product: http://blog.ideasinfood.com/ideas_in_food/2008/10/turducken.html ) but I don't like the idea of paying for something I'm not getting (my main issue with pink slime) and I think the bacterial issue is a real concern.

          May 24, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • ex-meatpacker

      good points, and very true

      May 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
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