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Beware of Meat Glue
An example of meat that has been glued together using 'transglutaminase'. | PHOTO: WIKIPEDIA
April 26th, 2016 | 11:14 AM | 6222 views
Shopping for some meat can be just another routine on the grocery list for most people. Whether you are prowling the wet market in Gadong or simply buying it from any department stores in the Sultanate, meat is one of the most important food items in any part of the world. Consumers have different approaches in identifying a piece of good meat but it all leads to one cause; we only want the best. But how experienced are we in this area? If indeed we have some knowledge in distinguishing good meat from bad ones, chances are we may have come across ‘meat glue’. So, what is meat glue?
First identified in 1959, transglutaminase or ‘meat glue’ is an enzyme that bonds protein-containing foods together, particularly raw meat products. It is used in the kitchen by chefs and cooks alike to make uniform portions that cook evenly. This enzyme is also responsible for the appetizing look of your meat. In 1989, researchers at the Japanese company ‘Ajinomoto’ discovered a strain of soil bacteria, Streptoverticillium mobaranse, which produced large quantities of easily purified transglutaminase known as microbial TG.
However, in most cases ‘meat glue’ is manufactured from animal’s blood plasma such as pigs and cattle, specifically the coagulant that causes blood to clot. It is made available in a form of powder substance. Butchers often avoided wastage by using TG to glue together leftover meat scraps, that, under normal circumstances, are not fit for human consumption. The end product is then sold as prime cuts at a premium price. The practice of using TG or meat glue is widespread and several instances have made international headlines over the recent years. Experts are having a hard time trying to distinguish genuine prime cuts from the ones sprinkled with meat glue. If food professionals are unable to differentiate between the two, then the general consumers are oblivious to what has been done to their meat products.
Image shows an example of industrial-grade transglutaminase or meat glue. | PHOTO: CookingIssues.com
Now, Muslims are strictly prohibited from consuming animal blood. That is clear as day. Every practicing Muslim knows this. But what most Muslims do not know, the food industry has found a clever way to get around the Islamic dietary law thanks to meat glue. The practice is similar to pumping water and flavor to low grade meat to make it heavier and edible. And it’s not just beef. Pork, lamb, fish and chicken are all stuck back together using meat glue. It is so bad that the European Union (EU) had voted to ban transglutaminase after discovering that it had “no proven benefits” and “carry an unacceptably high risk of misleading consumers” (http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/05/eu-bans-meat-glue/).
What are the risks associated with consuming glued-together meat? Not only you have purchased a bad meat at premium price, there is an increased possibility of contracting food poisoning since it takes longer to cook a meat that is once on the outside, which is now on the inside vice versa. Thus, the meat is likely to be contaminated with bacteria if improperly cooked. You are both scammed and poisoned by the meat industry.
So, what do you think? Does the authority need to start probing local markets to find out if they are using meat glue? What do you think need to be done to raise more awareness on this issue?
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