“Meat glue” has been around for decades, but, like “pink slime,” the product has recently bubbled to the surface of public consciousness in a way that’s making the meat industry uneasy.
Recent news reports have questioned the product’s safety and–as happened with pink slime–industry giants have responded by distancing themselves from the product. Wednesday, Cargill and Tyson assured customers that they don’t use it in any of their meat products.
Critics express a few beefs with this practice. First, they say it’s deceptive to consumers who might believe they purchased, for example, a whole tenderloin rather than a reconstructed one. In a store it would have to be labeled as “reconstructed,” but not in restaurants.
Second, they say it can violate religious dietary restrictions, since at least one brand of the enzyme is made with pig and cow blood.
And third, they say the practice compromises food safety when the meat is cooked rare in the center. True whole muscle cuts can safely remain rare in the center because their centers have never been exposed to air or bacteria, but glued pieces, theoretically, can’t.