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Is Meat Glue Considered Safe on a Gluten Free Diet?

Most Food additives, such as colorings, preservatives, fillers, and more are commonly used by businesses in the food industry to improve the color, taste, and texture of food products. Even though some are considered harmless, others could be harmful to your health. Microbial transglutaminase which is also known as meat glue is a known food additive that a lot of people try so hard to avoid due to health-related issues. This article will provide a general overview of microbial transglutaminase and a breakdown of some safety concerns regarding the food ingredient.

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What Is Meat Glue?

Even though the name “meat glue” sounds scary, Microbial transglutaminase is a popular enzyme that is found naturally in all animals and plants. This enzyme helps in joining proteins together to form a perfect bond which is commonly known as “nature’s biological glue”. In all animals, especially humans, microbial transglutaminase is actively involved in various body processes such as sperm production and blood clotting. It is also necessary for the growth and development of plant cells.

The Microbial transglutaminase (mTG) utilized in food production is either obtained from blood clotting activities in animals such as pigs and cows or bacteria delivered from plant extracts. This meat glue is often received in powder form. Microbial transglutaminase’s ability to bond properly makes it an important product in the food industry. From its name, meat glue holds proteins that are contained in common foods like, baked goods, meat, and meat products like sausages, bacon, ham, ribs, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, sushi, as well as  dairy and cheese.

This would allow the food product to have an improved texture and also create unique products, such as imitation crab meat which is formed by binding different protein sources together.

How Is Meat Glue Used?

Even though a lot of people try so hard to avoid food products that contain artificial additives, there is still a very high possibility that microbial transglutaminase is included. A recent study from research experts showed that adding microbial transglutaminase to chicken sausages made from several parts of chicken creates an improved texture, appearance and water retention.

Most Chefs in known restaurants often use meat glue when preparing novel dishes such as spaghetti made out of shrimp meat. Considering the fact that microbial transglutaminase is very useful in the fusion of proteins together, this product is also used to create a single piece of meat from multiple pieces. For instance, a high-volume restaurant serving buffet-style meals could serve a steak made from binding together cuts of several cheaper meat using microbial transglutaminase. Meat glue could also be used in the manufacture of yogurt, cheese and ice cream. Also, meat glue can be added to baked goods to improve the volume, dough stability, elasticity and ability to absorb water. How often do you consume any of these foods that contain microbial transglutaminase?

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Is Meat Glue Bad for Your Health?

When you hear the name meat glue, the first thing that runs through your mind are safety concerns of using microbial transglutaminase in food. The main problem with meat glue is not just the ingredient used but the high risk of bacterial contamination in the food product after it’s used. When several pieces of meat are glued together to form one, there is a high chance of bacteria contamination in the food.

Some experts also argue that the presence of meat glue in food products makes the protein structure weak and also makes it more difficult to cook properly. Even when the piece of meat is combined with several protein sources joined together with microbial transglutaminase, it becomes more difficult to identify the source of the bacterial outbreak. Would you like to learn about other health implications of combining several different protein sources?

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Meat Glue On A Gluten Free Diet

Another major concern is that the meat glue could negatively impact those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Microbial transglutaminase is also known to increase intestinal permeability, which could complicate the symptoms of people with celiac disease by enhancing the allergenic load on the immune system. Research also shows that the surge in people diagnosed with celiac disease may be linked to the increased consumption of microbial transglutaminase in food.

It is known that meat glue can increase the risk of flaring up celiac disease symptoms. For most people living with gluten sensitivity, this can lead to GI inflammation. This could also be noticed in gluten free products which are also modified with microbial transglutaminase in place of gliadin. Previous studies have shown that food processed with microbial transglutaminase can cause cross reactivity in most people managing gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitive and celiac consumers often consume “gluten-free” labeled, microbial transglutaminase processed products that could lead to inflammatory flare ups.

Gluten is known to cause leaky gut. Consuming food products that contain Microbial transglutaminase can cause changes in the proteins it binds and boost the tight junction leakage in the gut (also known as intestinal permeability). Consuming food products altered with microbial transglutaminase mimics the gluten response in the gut. Another known effect of Microbial transglutaminase in the gut is the high susceptibility to infections for those with celiac disease. Microbial transglutaminase is also a known factor that can be added to the list of known causes of breaking down the gut’s protective barriers.

The immune system will recognize and respond to “meat glue” as foreign, typically seen in someone with gluten sensitivity.  In addition, consuming unhealthy meats can contribute to colon cancer, bladder cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer and diabetes by more than 50% in most cases.

What do you need to do?

To minimize your health risks associated with ingestion of mTG, choose meats and dairy products from local, organically raised, grass-fed animals.

Stick to buying your own meat and cooking it yourself.

Does transglutaminase have to be labeled?

Yes. When a product contains TG,  tTG  “transglutamiase” must be listed in the ingredient statement. A product that uses TG also will say “formed” or “shaped” on the label

 In Summary

Microbial transglutaminase, or meat glue, is a popular food additive used to improve the texture and appearance of foods like processed meats. Even though major food safety organizations consider it safe, there are so many other health concerns surrounding it such as the increased risk of bacterial contamination. It is also known to worsen the symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Whether you are trying to avoid food additives or just the consumption of microbial transglutaminase, it’s best to go for high-quality, whole-food ingredients whenever possible. Would you like to learn more about the health concerns regarding the use of transglutaminase?

Don’t hesitate to CONTACT me to schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation where we will discuss these concerns.

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