Transglutaminase ‘Meat Glue’ Used to Make Steaks in High-End Restaurants
First there was ‘pink slime.’ Then there was ‘tuna scrape.’ Now ‘meat glue,’ the latest food gross-out, is beginning to creep into the headlines. You might want to read this before you head out for that nice steak dinner you were planning this weekend…
It’s technically called transglutaminase. But in the restaurant world, it’s better known as meat glue. Unscrupulous chefs use the extracted clotting agents from pigs’ and cows’ blood to bind together scrap pieces of meat to form the prime filet steaks that diners dish out big bucks for at upscale restaurants. The meat scraps are glued with transglutaminase, wrapped up, refrigerated overnight and voilà, filet mignon.
Unsuspecting diners have no idea what they’re eating, since federal regulations don’t require restaurants to disclose the use of meat glue.
“They’re taking the clotting agents out of pigs’ and cows’ blood, and they’re using that to clot together chunks of meat,” Nigel Tudor, a Pennsylvania cattle farmer, told WTAE. “Just like a clot forms whenever you get a cut, except instead of healing up a wound, it’s taking pieces of meat and clotting them to each other into one giant chunk.”
The federal government says meat glue is “generally recognized as safe.” But some health experts believe otherwise.
“There’s a food safety problem. I think that would be the number one concern,” Allegheny County (Pa.) Health Department official Steve Steingart told WTAE. Steingart is concerned about the possibility of contamination and says that eating undercooked steak held together by meat glue could be dangerous.
“[The meat] would have to be cooked because if you ordered this rare, there’s a possibility that this steak, there could be growth on it,” he said.
Grainne Trainor, owner of the Mighty Oak Barrel restaurant in Oakmont, Pennsylvania told WTAE that a supplier recently tried to sell her meat glue.
“There’s a deceptive quality we don’t like about it, and there’s also a health and sanitation quality that we absolutely disagree with,” Trainor told WTAE.
“Meat is something you buy at your neighborhood local butcher shop,” she added. “Glue is something you buy at Home Depot. Those two words just don’t belong in the same sentence.”
Moral Low Ground’s advice to those of you who are planning on having steak the next time you dine out is to ask your waiter or restaurant manager if they use transglutaminase, and hope they tell you the truth.