Is Meat Glue Safe?


Written by Sara Novak

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.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


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Photo from tarale via flickr


William C
William C10 months ago


W. C
W. C10 months ago

Thank you for the news.

Jim Ven
Jim Vabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Angie V.
Angie V4 years ago


Dale Overall

Intriguing what industry thinks up next to con the consumer into paying full price for something that isn't quite the legitimate "cut". We get sold fake gold and all sorts of different things so nothing new with this...the meat industry is just one of the many industries where we are sold fake goods.

Some go on about being vegan or "go veg." No thanks. I will munch on quinoa, asparagus, berries, nuts and small servings of meat. There are toxins in veggies, GMO seeds unless one is lucky enough to get purely organic ~ not awash in toxic chemicals/pesticides. Even then, veggies have been involved in listeria outbreaks. Not as often as meat but when one eats organic one is not immune. No one is entirely safe from whatever we eat. Avoid factory farms and big outlets for meat, GMOs/toxic pesticides for plant based foods.

Perhaps one day Mother Nature will redesign the planet where all life will dine on rock pate and no organic life will be ended but it is highly unlikely. Til then, eat your broccoli/tofu or your meat and quinoa and watch out for big agri-business conglomerates.

Jessie M.
Jessie M5 years ago

Gross but unsurprising, the FDA is a joke.

Willetta S.
Willetta s5 years ago


Joe R.
Joe R5 years ago

Sad to say ... the FDA is not necessarily a friend to the American consumer.

Dan B.
Dan Brook5 years ago

please visit my

Food for Thought---and Action

Donna F.
Donna F.5 years ago

Oh, I'm so tired of all the histrionic complaining over the 'pink slime'. People have a right to complain that they weren't told about it, but most of the other complaints are baseless and ignorant. Ammonium hydroxide is a gas. It's not AMMONIA. If it winds up in the meat at all, it's in tiny, trace quantities. Still unhappy? Then, OMG, NEVER eat beef again...because it occurs naturally in beef. It also occurs in a LOT OF OTHER FOODS. Want a bacon cheeseburger? Here it is:

Bun - 2 oz = 50 mg (440 ppm)
Bacon - 1 oz = 16 mg (160 ppm)
Condiments – 2 oz = 50 mg (400 ppm)
Cheese – 1.5 oz = 76 mg (813 ppm)
Beef – 3.2 oz = 40 mg (200 ppm)

Those numbers are the amounts of Ammonium hydroxide present in those foods. Guess what doesn't have a lot of ammonium hydroxide in it? Pink slime. If you have a nice, big, juicy pink slime cheeseburger, the highest source of Ammonium hydroxide will be the slice of cheese.