The commercial meat packing industry and restaurants around the U.S. have found a new way to increase profits by using meat scraps to make filet mignons as well as hot dogs, sausages and stew meat. Powdered meat glue binds scraps of beef, lamb, chicken or fish, that would normally be thrown out, into solid pieces of meat. According to its manufacturer, meat glue can be used to produce new kinds of mixed meats (for example combining beef and fish seamlessly).
Meat glue permits restaurants and butchers to sell their meat scraps as premium meat. Once you cook the glued meat, even a professional butcher or chef can’t tell the difference.
This Franken-food is sold as imitation crabmeat, ham, hot dogs, sausage, fish balls, for making milk, making noodles firmer and making yogurt (water loss) creamier. It is also used for more expensive products such as filet mignons and veal steaks and products labeled as beef steak, chopped meat, shaped meat, frozen meat, pork or chicken as well as minute steak, formed meat, wafer sliced meat, frozen meat, beef added products, chopped meat, molded meat, cubed or frozen beef, chicken and pork as well as some Hydrolyzed plant protein.
So how do they glue meat together and make it look just like filet mignons? Super glue? No! A new miracle glue from 3M? No! The industry uses a pseudo-coagulant called Thrombin or Fibrimex, which were initially banned in Europe but now sold in the EU, Australia, Canada and the U.S.
Thrombin is sold under the brand names Activa RM and Fibrimex. The products derive from pig or bovine blood. The active ingredient is called transglutaminase. When sold in a store, products containing transglutaminase are labeled as “composite meat product”. However there are no labeling or disclosure requirements placed on restaurants.
But meat glue sold as Thrombin and transglutaminase have a different enzyme makeup. Transglutaminase is the enzyme that cross-links proteins in “meat glues.” Thrombin is a different protein, a protease that causes increased transglutaminase activity. Thrombin can be hazardous to use because if it enters a cut it can cause extensive blood clotting.
Thrombin contains Maltodextrin and sodium caseinate which contain (without disclosure) Ajinomoto’s MSG. Blood carries bacterias, toxins and viruses causing infections and autoimmune responses in animals as they do in humans.
Factory farms also use growth hormones (steroids) that require daily doses of antibiotics in an effort to control or minimize illnesses. Animal feed used in CAFOs contains pesticide residues that also contribute to illness. The use of antibiotics signals an admission that factory farmed animals are sick or become sick. Why would you give daily doses of antibiotics to an animal or human being unless they were sick?
The infectious agent that leads to mad cow disease can also be passed through animal blood meal. As a result of mad cow’s disease cases in 2004, the Bush administration’s FDA said it “would ban animal blood in cattle feed, while dietary supplements and cosmetics would be kept free of materials from cattle too sick or hurt to walk.” Consumer groups said the protections did not go far enough. Why does the food industry and the USDA think animal blood meal is now safe for human consumption? What has changed since 2004?
Keith Warriner who teaches food science at University of Guelph expressed concern that when scraps of meat, often taken from butcher and slaughterhouse floors, are glued together, dangerous bacteria such as E. coli have a better chance of growing and infecting consumers.
Warriner said, “If there is a bacteria outbreak, it’s much harder to figure out the source when chunks of meat from multiple cows were combined.” This is a serious issue plaguing the U.S. as demonstrated by the recall of more than 330,000 pounds of meat from January 2011 through March 2011. There will be more recalls as there are every year.
If fish and vegetarian meals are bound together by meat glue, shouldn’t the products be labeled as containing meat parts? A vegan or vegetarian will find this offensive. And what about religious groups that ban the use of pork and blood products? McDonald’s has been sued more than once by religious groups for failing to disclose their use of beef lard to make French fries.
The act of confining livestock in pens and cages creates an even more dangerous atmosphere in which parasites, lice, mites, mosquitoes, liver flukes, worms, tick bacteria and fly larvae thrive. According to Michael Greger, MD, the animals pass disease to each other in confined conditions.
The feeding of Monsanto’s Bt genetically modified corn to confined animals adds to the growth of bacteria and leads to the acidosis and laminitis, a hoof disease found in horses and cattle. It is a serious infection that transfers into the blood of the animal.
At blood banks for humans, each person must be carefully screened to avoid carriers of diseases that can be transmitted though their blood donation. Is the industry following the same procedure and testing each animal’s blood before making blood meal? Are we safe without the same testing as required for humans?
Factory farmed animals leave a mountain of animal waste stored in manure lagoons for up to a year. These lagoons emit gases including hydrogen sulphate, ammonia, manure slurry and particulate matter. Partial exposure to ammonia and hydrogen sulfide gases, produced by stagnating liquid manure, can cause respiratory problems, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, burning eyes, confusion, tension, depression, fatigue and compromised immunity in humans.
These gases are so harmful that farm workers have died of asphyxiation when they entered an improperly vented CAFO. Factory farmed animals are exposed to these gases 24/7.
A University of Iowa study found children living near factory farms are particularly susceptible to asthma. Calves and other young animals raised on the factory farms must be terribly effected starting at birth.
Then there are the rats known to infest factory farms that can carry every bacteria, virus and illness known to man. The recall of Wright County Egg Farms eggs is but one example of the dangers of infestation. The above issues are dangers that must be addressed by even the best sustainable farmers. But sadly factory farms are less caring and have less time and interest in their animals. A lack of caring has become a badge of American corporations in recent years.
It is only logical that some sick animals will carry unwanted viruses, bacteria and other pathogens in their blood. Do you really need biased studies by the industry to prove otherwise? Isn’t it common sense? The industries’ resistance to this obvious problem reminds us of the criticism Luis Pasteur received from his critics in the 1860s.
Nonetheless the FDA added transglutaminase to it’s GRAS list (generally recognized as safe) list even though food preparers must wear masks when handling meat glue to prevent injury and illness. If a mask is required to handle meat glue, then logic dictates that it must be dangerous to anyone who consumes it. It is illogical to think otherwise.
Transglutaminases are a family of enzymes first described in 1959. The blood coagulation protein factor found in factory farmed animal blood meal that causes the enzymes to bind and glue meat together was not discovered until1968. The enzyme causes blood to clot. So, what does it do to humans when chefs use a larger amount to create a signature dish?
British chef, Heston Blumenthal, is credited with the introduction of “meat glue” into modern restaurant cooking. Wylie Dufresne, a New York chef, took it a step further and invented a “pasta” made from more than 95% shrimp parts using meat glue.
Now, countless chefs around the world are sharing these recipes on how to glue their scraps of cheap meat together to make a delicious meal for greater profits. The most laughable instance is the use of chicken skin to glue fish parts together to produce high-priced “signature” meals. We wonder how much that menu “special” costs?
The USDA rules also permit beef cheek meat (trimmed beef face cheeks) to be used in the preparation of fabricated beef steaks. Let us put it another way – filet mignons are selling for $28.99 a pound in some groceries and served on dinner menus in upscale restaurants for as much as $50.00. It is possible that a steak you may eat is made from meat scraps and beef cheeks that generally sell for between $4.99 and $5.99.
The USDA rules limit the use of meat glue to no more than 65 parts per million (ppm) of the total weight of the treated product. See: 9 CFR 319.15(d). But restaurants are not bound by the USDA rules. The question is, do they use more than 65 ppm of meat glue or transglutaminase in their products?
No one knows where the USDA got its 65 ppm safety limits for meat glue or whether it has any basis in science since its manufacturer Ajinomoto was permitted to test the safety of its own meat glue product. It may be a totally arbitrary number. The FDA and USDA have abdicated their responsibility to test. But like so many other products, the FDA and USDA have left safety testing to the corporate foxes in the public henhouse.
After viewing a demonstration of how meat glue is used, it was clear that the average application far exceeds 65 ppm. The popular YouTube demonstration from Australia, shows a heaping teaspoon added to about two pounds of meat. A heaping teaspoon full is about one ounce or 3% of volume. Certainly 3% of meat glue far exceeds 65 ppm. The appropriate amount of meat glue per two pounds would be less than one-half of a teaspoon. Approximately one-fourteenth of what was used in the demonstration.
According to the French Culinary Institute, 2.2 pounds of powdered meat glue will bind more than 220.4 pounds of meat parts together. Their computation is almost identical to our example above. A 2.2 pound bag of meat glue can be purchased on Amazon discounted from $125.00 a bag to $86.55.
According to the French Culinary Institute’s Tech’N Stuff Blog on using RM (the industry term for meat glue):
“When bonding a mixture, add RM by weight. Typically, RM is used at .75% to 1% by weight of the mixture being bonded. 1 kilogram [2.2 pounds] of mixture will require 10 grams of RM. The exception is pure chicken breast, which is more difficult to bond and sometimes requires up to 2%. Leg meat will work at 1%. Adding water or water-based flavors (like wine) to mixtures in small quantities does not affect bond strength, but adding fat-based flavors (like cream) will weaken the bond.”
The reality is that the limits approved by the USDA and the definition of the French Culinary Institute appear to be far less than what is actually used every day by chefs and meat processors. A chef can take one pound of meat scraps that sell for $5.99 and glue it into filet mignons that sell for more than $45.00 a meal in upscale restaurants. If 10 grams aren’t enough, you can be certain that the industry and chefs will use more to achieve their culinary goals.
According to certain chefs, you have to blacken the outside of the meat or the center is left uncooked because the former outside of the meat is now in the center glued to another outside piece. Even these chefs question its safety.
There is no reason for meat scraps to be glued together and sold as filet mignons, or any other product for that matter, except increasing profits. But to do so, requires concealment of the truth by failing to disclose a material fact that would stop Americans from buying overpriced beef products.
If you read a label that says, THIS FILET MIGNONS IS A GLUED-TOGETHER FACSIMILE CONTAINING BEEF SCRAPS AND BEEF FACE CHEEKS, would you pay $28.99 a pound in the market or $50.00 in a restaurant?
Researchers have found that transglutaminase antibodies may play a role in the celiac disease and causing small bowel damage. By their very nature, “composite meat products” pose a health risk to Crohn’s, IBD and IBS patients. More recent research indicates that sufferers from neurological diseases such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s may have unusually high levels of one type of transglutaminase.
If you think this is not a problem in our society, consider this. There are approximately 133,000 new cases of colorectal cancer per year in the U.S. and approximately 54,000 deaths per year. Each year, more than 600,000 surgical procedures are performed in the United States to treat a number of different colon ailments caused primarily by processed foods, factory farmed meats and genetically modified foods.
At a recent event, two people told us that they had at least some part of their colon removed. We have a friend whose 20-year-old son had his colon removed last year along with a 47-year-old business associate. Digestive diseases are now epidemic in our country. Meat glue is but one more contributor. Worse yet, the public is being fooled into paying about six times the value of the food that can make you ill and lead to stomach and colon ailments.