Is Meat Glue Safe?

By Sara Novak, TreeHugger

Transglutaminase and beef fibrin, often called meat glue, is an ingredient used across the food industry to hold together smaller cuts of meat, poultry, and fish thatís been used for decades. Meat glue itself isnít considered dangerous by most, but there is a larger fear of food borne illness when small pieces of meat, sourced from different places, are held together.

FDA Opinion

The FDA says the ingredient is ďgenerally recognized as safeĒ but consumers have been grossed out by the idea that they could be eating beef tenderloin thatís actually tiny little pieces of beef glued together and sold at a higher cost.

Meat glue is actually a powder added to meat and rolled up in plastic wrap. The meat is refrigerated for 6 hours and the result is a solid piece of meat thatís seemingly impossible to tell from the real thing.

Like pink slime, the practice has endured harsh public scrutiny as much because of a lack of transparency as anything else. But meat glue, unlike pink slime, is labeled. The ammonia used in pink slime isn’t listed on any ingredient labels because it’s considered a “processing agent” even though it’s completely misleading to think that it doesn’t end up in the final product.

The Industry Responds

But even if itís listed very few people actually knew what it was until recently. In an effort to ensure that meat glue doesn’t endure the same fate as pink slime, the meat industry is responding to recent criticism.

Food Safety News reports:

“We’re definitely making an effort to engage,” said Janet Riley, the head of public affairs for the American Meat Institute, which represents the major players in the meat industry. Riley has made a point of addressing transparency concerns head on, noting that the practice of using TG and beef fibrin is “absolutely not a secret.”

And is it safe? Again, Food Safety News:

Dana Hanson, an extension meat scientist at North Carolina State University, said that it is possible that different cuts put together could be more susceptible to contamination by potentially introducing pathogens into the center of a pieced-together steak. But Hanson said that federal cooking recommendations would be sufficient to kill any bacteria.

But once again, public input is making the food industry shutter in fear of a negative reaction and without a doubt, transparency is a good thing.

Image: tarale / Creative Commons

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Rose Roma
Rose R.about a year ago

So that is the true marbling you pay extra for?! Ha!

Dale Overall

Yes, it does go down to profit, but that is nothing new in the market place as deception is a common practice be it in selling used cars that have been in an accident and saying that it is accident free or many other practices.

Ineke B. comments that the only way to avoid this deception in the meat industry is to avoid eating meat in the first place. No, not true at all, simply purchase your meat from organic farms, free range operations directly from the farmer. No toxins, no glue, no hormones and no antibiotics. Some of this organic meat is also for sale at specialty shops.

Eating meat is fine when you can trust the source. Eating a balanced diet is also necessary. Avoid veggies that are sprayed and saturated in chemicals and are genetically engineered as well for health reasons. We are in a "Buyer Beware" world these days. I have no intention of stopping eating meat or veggies, just have to watch where it comes from!

Elaine B.
Elaine B.3 years ago

Gross and grosser!!

Ineke Bee
Ineke Bee3 years ago

This is another deception by the meat industry. It's all about money. The only way to avoid this is to stop eating meat altogether.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.3 years ago


Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.3 years ago


Aditya Narayan
Aditya n.3 years ago


Phillipa W.
Phillipa W.3 years ago

thankyou so much. I'd never heard of this before.

Yvette T.
Past Member 3 years ago

By the way, the butterfly credit cause "Raise A Farm Animal Humanely" is NOT a sanctuary for rescued farm animals, as the title suggests. It is a slaughtering farm that profits from selling animal parts for humans to eat. If you were not aware of this fact before, please email or petition Care2 to let them know that too many members are misled by this title.

Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton3 years ago

Whoever eats meat deserves the glue!!