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.

When grilling beef at home, is it safe to say that beef is done when it’s brown all the way through or feels warm to the touch? Color and touch are not accurate ways to determine the doneness of a steak, roast or hamburger.

Myth: My hamburger or steak is done when it’s brown in the middle or warm to the touch.

The Facts: Internal temperature is the only way to tell when your hamburger, steak or other beef products are properly cooked.

Color and juices are not an accurate way to determine the doneness of beef. Color can change for a variety of reasons including oxygen exposure, preparation method or added seasonings.

Similarly, feeling how warm your steak is on the outside or by cutting into the inside to look at the juices is not an accurate way to determine doneness. Utilizing an instant read meat thermometer is the only way to know that the beef you’re preparing has reached the safe internal temperature.

What are proper internal temperatures for cuts of beef?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends grilling beef to the following temperatures to ensure a safe and enjoyable beef eating experience:

Ground beef/hamburger –160°F

Steaks – 145°F (medium rare)

Roasts – 145°F (medium rare)

Degree of Doneness

For more tips on how to cook to specific degree of doneness, check out Confident Cooking with Beef.

Always use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature – meat thermometers can be purchased at all grocery stores. Be sure to clean and sanitize your meat thermometer between uses.

Are there any other safe food preparation tips I should follow?

Preparing beef for cooking is just as important as cooking and grilling it. When preparing your meal, be sure to use different cutting boards and knives for meat and produce and wash them with hot soapy water between uses. An easy way to remember food safety guidelines is to Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. This process ensures a safe eating experience for you and your family. After your meal is over, refrigerate leftovers in order to enjoy safe beef for lunch the next day!

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