JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- We've all heard of wood glue, super glue, school glue... but what about meat glue?
The real name: Transglutaminase.
Meat glue is a powdered enzyme used to fuse pieces of protein together. We found out meat glue is used in some restaurants and even some grocery stores and we wanted to know why.
We took our questions to one of Jacksonville's top chefs.
Chef Matthew Medure of restaurant Medure, Matthew's and MBurger. He says, "Good meat costs a lot of money."
He says using "meat glue" is one way restauranteurs can save money gluing together and selling all those scraps of pricey meat. Medure had never used meat glue before, but he agreed to try it out for us. As he was opening the package of "Moo Glue" Action News purchased on the internet he told us, "It's a living enzyme. It has kind of a waxy feel to it."
Chef Medure followed the directions for the Moo Glue. We asked, "So you can actually take those two pieces of veal and glue them together?" Medure responded, "I believe you can." Medure says the powder basically bonds any two pieces of protein when pressed together - which he did. He rolled the meat together to get an even shape and wrapped it in plastic wrap. He explained, "Six hours from now you get a perfect piece of meat." After those six hours it was hard to tell which piece of meat is natural and which has been pieced together.
Medure cut a steak from the package and while cooking it said, "It looks like a lovely steak." We also wondered if you can taste a difference? We couldn't... but the more we cut--we found a clue.
The seam in the middle of the meat opened up and you could see the glue stretching between the two pieces of meat.
Eating glued meat may not be appetizing, but is it dangerous?
We took that question to Doctor Kevin Pegg our Food Safety Expert from FSCJ.
Pegg says, "We've all eaten moo glue - it's such a common product."
Dr. Pegg studies food safety at FSCJ. He says imitation crab meat is glued, fish sticks are glued, some chicken fingers are also glued.
He explained that binders are commonly used in processed products and it's perfectly safe to eat... but there is one major issue. Pegg says, "The outside of the meat is where most of the contamination is... so when you glue pieces of the meat together, the internal pieces of the meat that used to be on the outside are now on the inside, so it has to be cooked well done."
Dr. Pegg says the USDA requires glued meat to be labled, but restaurants are not required to disclose a list of ingredients. At the end of the day, it's up to the person making your food to decide to glue or not to glue.
Chef Medure says - he'll pass, "I don't like to adulterate the food. I like to keep it natural." So here's the bottom line... if you're worried you've ordered a piece of glued meat--ask. To always be safe order meat cooked well enough to burn off bacteria and at the grocery store, be a label reader.
To learn more about Transglutaminase or "meat glue", follow the links on the right side of the page.