Meat glue, also known as transglutaminase (TG), is a natural enzyme used to bind protein-containing foods together. Transglutaminase typically comes in a white powder and can be brushed directly onto a piece of meat or mixed with water to form a slurry. Once applied to separate pieces of raw meat, TG has the power to bind these pieces and make them appear as one solid piece of meat.
Lets take a look at some issues with using TG:
The surface area of a piece of raw meat is where microorganisms live. “Gluing” pieces of smaller meat together increases the amount of surface area in the meat and therefore increases the number of microorganisms present. A meat-glued beef medallion, for example, is therefore unsafe to eat if not cooked thoroughly.
Truth in Menu
Truth in menu refers to the accurate representation of items on a menu. If I order filet mignon at a restaurant, I expect to receive a true cut of beef tenderloin, not a piece of Frankenstein-meat made from left over meat scraps. Thus, a restaurant using TG to cut corners would violate this truth in menu principle.
While there are many ways restaurants can misuse TG, it can be correctly used to reduce waste. Restaurants throw out a lot of food and could reduce waste if they offered an item on their menu that used TG and meat scraps(and labeled it as being made with TG). Would you order a piece of meat that was made with TG?
Rumor has it that McDonalds even uses TG to make their chicken McNuggets. While this is great for reducing waste, it certainly violates the truth in menu principle described above.
While some chefs use TG in harmful ways, others can use it creatively, to expand the boundaries of meat preparation, recreating dishes through edible science. One great use for TG is with bacon wrapped meat. Chefs can use meat glue without altering taste and without using pesky toothpicks that can be hazardous to customers if not removed before service. Celebrity chef Wylie Dufresne also famously uses meat glue to make pasta entirely out of shrimp:
The pictures shown below are of chicken filling wrapped in chicken treated with TG.
Believe it or not, the company Ajinimoto (the same company who makes MSG) is the only commercial producer of TG. To buy your very own TG, visit this site.
Check out other cool scientific advances in food preparation: