Meat + Glue = Gross

It's what's for dinner: "Sample Beef Application": Ajinomoto Food Ingredients LLC
Would it really surprise you to know that within your choice grade fillet mignon you purchase, you may be getting a little more than you bargained for and much cheaper than it's worth?

Here's how: Meat glue.

Just the sound of that is gross and disturbing. I really can't believe they can do this, but at the same time...of course I can.

Using meat glue has already been banned in Europe, but is actively used in the States. Many restaurants here, however, have opted not to use the meat glue.

What makes up this glue? 
Transglutaminase - it's an enzyme that creates a bond between two different proteins (hence, why it works perfectly with meat). They happen to take the clotting agent out of pig and cow blood in order to clot together pieces of meat.

Aside from it being gross, why is it unsafe?
Well, the FDA has actually regulated this practice as "safe", however, the real problem lies in the meat. When meat travels from the farm to the plant and finally to the store (or restaurant), it has developed and grown bacteria on the outside of the meat. When you grill or cook the meat, the outside bacteria is usually killed and the inside of the meat remains sterile.

Now, when you take two extra pieces of meat and glue them together, you have the outside of two pieces of meat inside with bacteria. This means that the inside will no longer be clean and will leave it open to E. coli outbreaks or food illness even after it has been cooked.

Why is it used?
Because stores and restaurants can charge you more money for a fillet mignon or a steak, than for beef stew or scrap meat pieces that are not the choice parts. They can manufacture fillet mignon, or pretty much anything, using meat glue. The cost can go from a $4.00 p/lb of stew meat to $25.00 p/lb for choice glued meat.
Read ingredients and where it comes from. This is from 6 countries! I wonder what put it together...

How can I avoid meat glue?
Aside from becoming a vegetarian, another way to avoid this is to purchase grass fed or organic meat. If it's local, even better. Read labels (look at the image above. Even if they didn't use meat glue, I wouldn't recommend eating that). Always ask, especially at restaurants.

Some restaurants stay far from it, but others, like Wylie Dufrense of Manhattan's WD-50, are more than thrilled to use it for creative ways to invent new recipes. In Meat Paper, it describes how Wylie has "concocted all manner of playful and bizarre food products with meat glue, including shrimp spaghetti, which he made by mixing salt, cayenne, deveined shrimp, and meat glue in a blender."

If you watch the video below, it will give you an overview of how this is done.

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