If you live in the UK, you’ll be pleased to hear that this ‘trick of trade’ has been banned by the EU, which is another reason why EU food laws are ahead of the game compared to the US and other developed countries outside of the EU. This ‘trick of the trade’ is something known as ‘meat glue’ which is a substance that is effectively used by meat manufacturers to utilise scrap meat off- cuts, and turning them into ‘prime’ cuts of meat.
Now I am all for avoiding wastage, however there is a fine line between reducing wastage for the good of the economy and environment, and using unsafe tricks that may compromise health!
How meat glue may compromise health
It may seem obvious that any term that has ‘meat’ and ‘glue’ in the same sentence isn’t going to be that good for you, right? Although this may be the case, the ingredient used to form the ‘glue’ that meat manufacturers and some butchers use is transglutaminase. Transglutaminase is an enzyme that contributes to the natural blood clotting process in an animal’s body, it makes a wound tacky and act’s like…well, glue. Despite this not sounding good, and certainly not appetising, the glue itself poses no known risk to health, it is, after all, a naturally occurring substance in the body. The problems with meat glue arise during the cooking process…the more the meat is processed, the more it is handled, and consequently the greater the chances are that it will harbour bacteria. The process of gluing meat together is exposing the meat off cuts to more bacteria meaning the finished piece of meat looks legitimate, but may contain considerably more bacteria such as e- coli.
Because regular cuts of meat are handled on the outside, the middle of the meat is usually sterile, plus the cooking process also kills the bacteria on the outside. However, meat that has been stuck together has multiple surface areas that have been exposed to bacteria, the problem with this is that those surfaces are now inside the meat! The way that steak or fillet mignon is cooked, often leaves the middle raw and the bacteria well in- tact! This is a recipe (literally and metaphorically) for disaster!
The Americans are seriously considering banning this practice which has been going on for more than 10 years, the EU have led the way here, so let’s hope the US find a safe way to make the most of those meat off- cuts, a way that doesn’t implicate one’s health and wellbeing!