Last week, all but one of the European Union nations voted in favor of using Thrombian, or Transglutaminase (TG), otherwise known as Meat Glue, or to some Meat Make-Up.

Thrombian is an enzyme that catalyzes covalent bonds between free amine groups and gamma-caroxminid groups of protein or peptide bond gluatamine.  Basically, the enzyme enables food processors to stick various types of meat together – for example, imitation crab meat.

imitation-crab-featured.jpgThe Swedish government’s recent approval of the use of Thrombian prompted the Swedish Consumers’ Association and politicians to join together to criticize this approval.  “We do not want this at all–it is meat make-up,” Jan Bertoft of the Association told IceNews, a daily Icelandic newspaper.

Thrombin is made from pig or cow blood and will be labeled as “composite meat product.”  The substance will be banned from being used in commercial kitchens.  Consumer groups and politicians fear that this vote will open the door for dishonest marketing practices.

“The problem is that Thrombian-enhanced products look like real meat.  It is the dishonesty in it that makes us think that it is not okay,” said Bertoft.  For example, pork tenderloin can have numerous small parts fused together to produce what will appear to be a full fillet.

According to blog, Cooking Issues, Meat Glue is commonly used all the time, primarily to:

• Make uniform portions that cook evenly, look good, and reduce waste

• Bind meat mixtures like sausages without casings

• Make novel meat combinations like lamb and scallops

Though the application of “meat glue” sounds unsavory to some, the substance has been made famous in the United States by celebrity molecular gastronomy Chef Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 restaurant in New York City.

Dufresne uses meat glue to make his famous Shrimp Pasta – which is pasta made out of shrimp rather than the traditional wheat pasta with shrimp.

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s website, Transglutaminase is classified as a GRAS product (generally recognized as safe) when used properly.

But CookingIssues blog cautions, “Although some studies have shown that stomach enzymes have difficulty breaking down proteins after they have been bonded by TG, other studies have shown that these bonded proteins are absorbed and broken down in the body into normal products as though they had never been bonded.”