Do you ever go to a nice steakhouse and order an expensive steak, perhaps to celebrate something special or treat your partner to a nice night out? Are you aware of what else may be lurking inside that steak? You probably haven’t heard of meat glue, an ingredient that is very frequently added to cuts of meat from the supermarket and even meats from those expensive restaurants. It acts as a binder to fuse multiple scraps together to ultimately create one steak, chicken breast, or pork chop.

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So What Exactly Is Meat Glue?

You may be imagining pieces of meat actually being glued together, but that is not how this works. Meat glue, officially known as transglutaminase, is a natural enzyme that is harvested from animal blood. It is primarily produced through the fermentation of bacteria, and when added to other meat, it forms an invisible and permanent bond to any other meat it comes into contact with. When sprinkled onto various pieces of meat, wrapped tightly, and allowed to sit for about 24 hours, it results in one single piece of meat, taking whatever shape it was formed in. It’s actually quite remarkable and is extremely difficult to tell that it has been used at all.

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Potential Harmful Effects Of Meat Glue

As stated in the video above, there are some potential health hazards to be aware of when consuming pieces of meat that have been fused together with meat glue. Because so many pieces of meat that have been exposed to air and bacteria are joined together, the bacteria on each piece then gets trapped inside. When you then order a cut of meat that is rare, medium-rare, or just not fully cooked, you are exposing yourself to this bacteria, increasing your risk of contracting a food-borne illness:

Say somebody wants that filet steak rare, the center temperature is not going to reach the temperature that will actually kill the bacteria,” Terje said. “And that’s also a really, really happy environment for things that can kill you.

This adhesive technology also means that meats of varying age and quality can be used together.

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Current labelling laws from the USDA do require transglutaminase to appear on the ingredients label, in addition to terms such as formed or reformed meat, which you may have even seen before but did not understand. A good plan of action to avoid eating inferior meats would be to know exactly where your meat is coming from — ideally a local farm that sells organic, grass fed beef and pasture raised chicken. If you are in a restaurant you can simply ask your server for some information on the meat that is being served. And if you are unable to find out if meat glue has been used, it is a wise decision to ensure your meat is cooked through before consuming.

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