The U.S. Meat industry has been under heavy attack in the last few months after videos surfaced of the “pink slime.” The industry is now under scrutiny again amid criticisms that meat processing plants are using what is being termed as “meat glue.”
Meat glue is actually a type of enzyme that is used to bind smaller cuts of pork and beef together to give it a larger and more uniform appearance. Meat glue is also used on imitation crab meat, dairy products and pasta. While the meat industry insists that the enzyme is safe, the U.S. Agriculture Department is now requiring the substance to be listed on food labels.
Meat glue is made from beef plasma, and critics claim that aside from health issues, it can also be used to deceive consumers by taking smaller cuts of inexpensive meat and piecing it together and labeling it as premium cuts.
To ease public anxiety about the use of meat glue, the American Meat Institute hosted a conference led by Fibrimex and Ajinomoto North America, two manufacturers of the enzyme. Both companies insist that only a small percentage of the enzyme makes its way into the meat that is sold in stores.
William Marler, A Seattle lawyer and critic of the meat glue, believes that consuming steak with the glue can put consumers at risk for food-borne illnesses.
Fibrimex and Ajinomoto North America both rebuffed Marler’s claim, stating that the enzyme has been in use for the past two decades and no consumer has ever fallen ill as a result.
The meat industry already has a black eye after the whole pink slime fiasco. While meat glue, for the most part, does not appear to be a major health threat, it does create publicity, though not the good kind. The meat industry will have to take drastic PR measures if it wants to get back on the good side with its consumers.