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Meat Glue (Transglutaminase) - Is It Really Used in Food Preparation?

Updated on February 23, 2014
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Lady Rain works as a daytime stock trader and writes about crafts and hobbies. She likes travelling and making papercraft models.

Some of us have not heard of meat glue until Today Tonight's broadcast showed us how small pieces of meat can be glued together to produce a big chunk of rib eye steak. At the butcher's, diced and minced meat that were unsold the previous day can actually be glued together and then sold as rib eye steak at a premium price the following day. It sounds a bit like playing with play dough, you can pull everything apart and then stick it together and create a new item.

One of the substances found in meat glue is transglutaminase, which comes in the form of a tenderizer meat powder. Transglutaminase is used in food binding and other food preparation. It gives dairy products like yogurts and milk a creamier texture. Transglutaminase is also used in cosmetics products as a binder, thickener and skin conditioning agent. Anti-aging and wrinkle creams are some of those products that may contain transglutaminase.

Now we have seen on TV how slices of beef were glued together, there are definitely a lot more food out there that contains meat glue. Most people have consumed those food for many years without knowing it. If you can get hold of some meat glue powder, there is an endless list of what you can do with food in the kitchen.

Chicken nuggets

Have you ever made your own chicken nuggets at home? Are you able to get every piece of nugget the same shape and size? How about sprinkling some meat glue powder on minced chicken meat, shape it then chill it. Wait for a few hours, unwrap the plastic and cut evenly. The chicken nuggets will look so perfect in size and every piece looks almost identical if you can get the same thickness for each cut piece. Nobody will ever complain about homemade chicken nuggets being too big or too small and out of shape.

Sausages and hot dogs

Most sausages and hot dogs are made from a combination of minced meat. All those unwanted pieces of fatty meat cut out from your last stir-fry dish will not be wasted. They can be mixed with some meat glue to make some nice looking sausages and hot dogs for lunch.

Fish balls

Next time you order a bowl of fish balls noodle from an Asian restaurant, have a good look at those perfectly round fish balls. I have tried making fish balls at home, it is like making meat balls, you place the minced fish meat in between your palms and roll it into a smooth round ball. As soon as you drop the fish ball into the boiling water, it just loses that smooth texture and sometimes disintegrate into a real mess in the pot. Meat glue will come in handy in holding the fish meat together. Remember, transglutaminase can give glued meat a smooth texture.

Yoghurt and milk

If you make your own yoghurt at home, have you ever wonder why your homemade yoghurt is more runny than those yoghurts on the supermarket shelves? If you read the labels on those yoghurt tubs, thickener is written on the ingredients list. Meat glue in its powder form is just like corn starch and is a thickener, it gives homemade yoghurt a really silky and smooth texture.

Salmon roll

Fish meat is soft and sometimes soggy to handle, how on earth can you make a nice thick slab of salmon roll like the ones they serve at a fine dining restaurant? How about gluing a piece of salmon fillet to another piece of salmon fillet, roll them up and wrap with plastic, then chill it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Then cut the roll into a few slabs and you will have perfect salmon rolls for dinner. Too easy.

Chicken breast meat

Chicken breast meat has less fat than other parts of the chicken and can taste dry and rough when it is overcooked. As I said, meat glue can improve the texture of the chicken breast meat.

Meat and vegetable pastas

There are a lot of fancy pastas in the market nowadays. There has to be some sort of glue being used in binding all these ingredients in those pastas.

Imitation crab meat

You can find these in most supermarket freezers. They are not called imitation for nothing. In other words, that's fake crab meat or just crap. God knows what they put in those things.


Traditionally, tofu making requires considerable amount of time for the tofu to coagulate naturally, If meat glue can be added as a thickener to quicken the process of production thus increasing the yield and improving the texture of tofu, why not?


Make your own bread from scratch and see if you can come up with a loaf of bread with the same texture as a supermarket loaf bread. Transglutaminase strengthen the bread dough and improve the texture of the bread. Thickener is present in all premix bread flour but they do not tell you it is transglutaminase.

Nothing is wasted

If you still have leftovers from all of the above items, why not make a big food loaf combination to reduce waste and save our environment?

In today's world, everything is possible. If you can think of what to do with meat glue, everybody out there is probably doing the same. Next time, when you order some chicken nuggets at MacDonald's, hot dog burgers or fish balls with noodles, have a guess at how they were made at the manufacturers.


© 2011 lady rain


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