By: Eric Mittenthal
Sweeps month has brought with it a common story for some local news outlets looking for “food secrets.” Several outlets have run stories on so called “meat glue” which is actually an inaccurate term for the products transglutaminase (TG) and beef fibrin. It has been fascinating in the variety of stories that have come out on TG and beef fibrin that most of the interviews are with chefs, many claiming that while they don’t use it or they use it correctly, but in the hands of someone with less experience or bad intentions, the products can be harmful or deceitful, yet no one actually has any proof of harm or deceit occuring.
While it may be possible that chefs are using TG and beef fibrin to deceive consumers into eating a premium steak such as a filet mignon that is actually made out of an inexpensive cut such as chuck, it is highly unlikely. Consumers would notice a significant quality difference if this were occuring. Most importantly, deceiving consumers by trying to pass off one cut as another is illegal as it breaks consumer protection laws. The use of TG and beef fibrin is also not common. According to numbers provided by manufacturers, .016% of meat consumed in the U.S. contains one of these products. Put another way, they are in about 1 in every 10,000 pieces of meat.
More commonly TG and beef fibrin are used to bind two cone shaped tenderloins together to provide a uniform portion size or bind bacon to a filet. A friend of mine told me a story about how her father once ate a bacon wrapped filet that connected the bacon using a metal toothpick. Her father forgot it was there and punctured his tongue. The use TG and beef fibrin means you don’t have to worry about that toothpick. AMI has several resources on TG and beef fibrin including audio from a press conference with manufacturers. Before you buy into the local news hype, be sure to get the facts.
Click the link below to listen: