It sounds rather gross but “meat glue” has been part of the dining experience for quite a while now, much like Texas Food Handlers or a Food Manager Certification Texas has been an integral component of food safety in protecting public health.
Meat glue, like it or not, is the discreet but ubiquitous meat addend that binds such innocent delectables as two large beef tenderloins together. If you’ve had your steak in a hotel, a casino, or a catered event, you’ve probably had meat glue to go with the main dish—and unwittingly enjoyed it.
Like pink slime, which unfairly suffered and eventually succumbed to bad press, meat glue is not a diner’s favorite ingredient because it does not seem “natural.” It is made up of transglutaminase (TG) and beef fibrin, which are enzymes that have the ability to glue proteins—as well as meat—together. These ingredients are also used in baked goods, yogurt, and seafood.
Tellingly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that both ingredients as “generally recognized as safe,” GRAS in industry parlance.
Dana Hanson, a meat scientist at North Carolina State University, noted the possibility that different cuts put together could be more susceptible to contamination by potentially introducing pathogens where the steak pieces are joined. Still, Hanson was quick to point out that federal cooking recommendations would be sufficient to eradicate any pathogens.
“We find that the safety of this product is very acceptable,” he reiterated.