Get the Facts on “Meat Glue” or Transglutaminase

There have been a multitude of questions about transglutaminase or “meat glue” lately. Let’s set the record straight on this safe, naturally-occurring enzyme that has been used for nearly two decades.

What is Transglutaminase or “Meat Glue”?

Transglutaminase (TG) or “meat glue” is a naturally-occurring enzyme, composed of simple amino acid chains.

Why is TG used?

TG is often used to ensure uniform portion sizes and to prevent food waste, like combining smaller cuts of meat into larger servings. TG may also be used to bind bacon to a filet for a delicious bacon-wrapped steak.

Is it safe?

Yes, TG has a long history of safe use according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. TG has also been generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is not classified as an allergen in the United States or Europe.

Uncooked Bacon Wrapped Filets.  Source: SteakGifts.net

Uncooked Bacon Wrapped Filets. Source: SteakGifts.net

Is TG labeled?

Yes. If a product contains TG, “transglutaminase” will be included in the ingredient statement. A meat product that contains TG will also indicate “formed” or “shaped” on the label.

How should I handle and cook meat containing TG?

Meat containing TG should be handled or cooked the same as any other meats; be sure to cook all meat to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source and allow the cut to rest for 3 minutes before eating. TG is deactivated by most cooking techniques and most people can’t detect any change of flavor to foods it’s used on.

How do I know if I am being served or purchasing meat with TG?

If you would like to know if meat you are served in a restaurant contains TG, just ask your server if it is a formed product. Regardless of whether or not TG is used, it is 100% beef.

In grocery stores, a product that uses TG will say “formed” or “shaped” on the label.

How is “meat glue” used in practice by chefs?

This naturally occurring enzyme is most commonly used to bind proteins together to make uniform portions of, for example, beef tenderloins, which recovers the less useful tapered ends of the tenderloin. By fusing two small pieces of tenderloin together chefs can maximize utilization and reduce food waste. Transglutaminase can also be used for creative applications in modernist cuisine, such as bacon wrapped filets or creating sausages without a casing.

For more information visit the USDA Website.

Beta-agonists, Zilmax and Optaflexx, and Cattle: How Targeted Use Results in Leaner Beef

Myth: Beta-agonists cause cattle to grow unnaturally large and are bad for my health.

The Facts: Zilmax and Optaflexx, which are beta-agonists, are animal feed ingredients that help cattle make the most of the food they eat resulting in more lean muscle instead of fat. They have been proven safe for cattle and humans.

Cattle farmers use these feed additives in targeted ways, only adding small amounts to the animals’ feed at a specific time in their lives. They are metabolized quickly by cattle so they are not stored in the body over time. Beta-agonists are approved for use in the United States, Canada and two dozen other countries across the developed world.

Get the top five facts behind beta-agonists in cattle:

1. What are beta-agonists and what do they do? A beta-agonist is simply a feed ingredient given to some cattle to help the animals make the most of the food they eat (ractopamine and zilpaterol are examples of beta agonists approved for use in cattle). When cattle are young, they use their food to build muscle, but as they age they begin to instead put on more fat. Beta-agonists help cattle maintain their natural muscle-building ability, resulting in the leaner beef that consumers demand.

2. How and why are they used? Beta-agonists, a feed additive, can be used as part of a healthy, balanced diet for cattle according to label guidelines. The decision to use this feed ingredient is an individual one that every farmer/rancher/feedyard manager makes in consultation with their veterinarian and animal nutritionist.

  • Many factors guide the decision to use beta-agonists, including type and condition of cattle, customer expectations (yield and quality grades), as well as leanness, weather or seasonal conditions, which may affect cattle health and growth.
  • A farm’s environmental goals are also considered because these feed ingredients reduce the farm’s demand on natural resources like land, water, feed and fuel.

Feedyard owner and operator Anne Burkholder of Cozad, Nebraska explains beta-agonists and why she chooses to use them.

3. Do they harm the animal? Animal welfare is a top priority. All animal health products are reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to use in animals to ensure there are no adverse impacts on animal health. Caring for their animals and making sure they grow healthfully is important to the people who raise cattle. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is in the farmers’ and ranchers’ best interest, too. It’s as simple as this – healthy animals produce high-quality meat.

  • In a feedyard, professional cowboys called “pen riders” ride horseback among their cattle to observe the health of every animal daily to make sure they are getting the care they need.

4. How do I know they are safe? All products used in food animals must go through dozens of studies and be shown to be safe for both animals and humans before approval by the FDA.

In the case of beta-agonists, hundreds of studies have been done. But the evaluation does not stop there.  After animal health products are approved, they are continuously monitored to improve their performance and how they are used. And, since beta-agonists are metabolized quickly by cattle, they aren’t stored in the body over time.

  • The safety of meat from animals fed ractopamine (a beta-agonist) has been affirmed by 28 regulatory bodies, including the international food standards body Codex Alimentarius Commission, which was created by the World Health Organization.
  • The U.S. Food Safety and Inspective Service (FSIS) routinely tests meat to ensure its safety.

5. Do beta-agonist fed cattle still produce quality beef? Yes. Today’s beef increasingly meets consumer expectations for a great-tasting meal. The entire beef community is committed to raising the highest-quality beef possible and consistently providing people with great-tasting beef. Learn more about how beef quality is measured.

  • Over the past 20 years, overall beef quality grades (such as Prime or Choice) have steadily improved, thanks to cattle genetics, the way cattle are fed and proper cattle handling to prevent stress.

If you prefer beef from cattle that was not fed a beta-agonist, there are great beef choices available for you in the grocery store. Products labeled USDA organic or “naturally-raised” would not have received any growth promoting product like a beta-agonist. Regardless of the type of beef you choose, you can feel confident that it’s safe, delicious and nutritious.

Are beef quality grades and eating satisfaction declining? No. The fact is that overall beef quality grades have steadily improved over the past 20 years.

Myth: Beef quality grades and eating satisfaction are on the decline.

The Facts: The entire beef community is committed to raising the highest-quality beef possible and consistently providing people with a good beef eating experience. Let’s discuss beef quality.

What is Quality Beef?

[Read more…]

Why Am I Hearing About “Mechanically Tenderized” Beef?

This is a typical blade (or needle) tenderizer, which breaks down muscle fibers to make even more tender beef.

This is a typical blade (or needle) tenderizer, which breaks down muscle fibers to make even more tender beef.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced new labeling requirements for raw or partially cooked beef products that have been “mechanically tenderized.” Restaurants, retailers, food service facilities, beef purveyors and their patrons will now have even more information about the beef products they are buying, as well as useful cooking instructions so they know how to safely prepare them. This rule, beginning May 17, now requires that raw beef product that has been mechanically tenderized include the descriptive designation “mechanically tenderized,” “blade tenderized” or “needle tenderized” on the package and include cooking instructions.

What is Mechanically Tenderized Meat?

Mechanically tenderized meat simply means that the meat has been pierced with needles, or small blades, in order to break up the muscle tissue for a more tender beef-eating experience. You may remember your grandmother doing something similar with a small meat mallet in her kitchen. Check out the video that explains more about mechanically tenderized meat.


Why is Meat Mechanically Tenderized?

Tenderness is one of the reasons people love beef. Some cuts, such as the lean sirloin cut, are a little less tender than other cuts, such as the very tender ribeye. This tenderness is dependent on a variety of factors – where the cut comes from on the carcass, the age or genetics of the animal and degree of marbling. Meat has been tenderized by hand in kitchens for generations. Today’s beef community uses a similar technique on a broader scale – mechanical tenderization – to offer more consistently tender beef options to more consumers. According to USDA data, about 11 percent or 2.6 billion pounds of beef products sold in the United States are mechanically tenderized. See the video below that discusses the different tenderness profiles of common beef cuts or check out the Interactive Butcher Counter to see which cuts are the most or least naturally tender.


What does this new rule mean for me?

This new rule shouldn’t change the way that you buy beef – you may just see more information on the label than you have in the past. Tenderized beef products are often sold at restaurants or foodservice establishments, but they can also be sold at supermarkets and grocery stores. Mechanically tenderized beef should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees followed by a three-minute rest time, so if you’re cooking it at home, be sure to follow those directions. If you’re ordering beef in a restaurant, the restaurant should always cook beef to the optimal food safety temperature.

For more information on this new rule, you can read USDA’s blog post on the topic. Also, check out the USDA infographic below.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: