Do You Know Nutrition: Meat glue holds it all together

Nov. 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.

By Phylis Canion

Is it true that meat glue is added to meat scraps to make it look like a single piece of meat? If this is true, doesn't it have to be listed on the product label? Is there a different taste to the product if it contains meat glue?

Unfortunately, I have to say yes, that there is an additive called meat glue that does exactly what you asked.

Meat glue, known as transglutaminase (TG), and Thrombin coagulant, is an enzyme that was discovered in blood coagulation protein factor XIII in 1968. TG is a fine, white, tasteless powder that looks like sugar icing and acts like super glue. The original meat glue was made from cow and pig blood.

Meat glue made it possible to piece together multiple pieces of meat (from different animals) into one seamless full cut of meat (after only six hours of refrigeration). Although the use of transglutaminase, and its diverse range of bonding food materials, has been approved for use in the United States, it is not required to be listed on food labels because it is not part of formulation of the product.

Not only is meat glue used in the production of processed meat products, it is also used in processed fish (i.e. crab cakes), chicken (i.e. chicken nuggets - since there is no "nugget" on a chicken), pork products, sausage (eliminates having to use casing), hot dogs, in making milk and yogurt creamier and in making noodles firmer.

Transglutaminase is manufactured by a Japanese company, Ajinomoto, under the name of Activa (not Activia) and gloves and mask are required during application. When all is said and done, I think cows should eat grass, humans should eat pure, unadulterated, nutrient-rich foods, cats should eat cat food, dogs eat dog food and birds eat bird seed.

When we all start eating food that our system cannot recognize and our digestive system cannot digest, we become out of balance and vulnerable to developing an unhealthy system with a lowered immunity and, well, you know the rest of the story.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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