Source: The Daily
NEW YORK -- With the furor over "pink slime" forcing its South Dakota manufacturer to shutter three of its four factories, the makers of so-called "meat glue" are hoping they aren't next.
Transglutaminase is an enzyme-based powder that has, for the past two decades, been used to bind together disparate beef, chicken and fish scraps so that they can be presented to consumers as whole filets. And last week, it became the subject of unflattering media reports.
Because consumers at restaurants have largely been unaware of the product's presence in their food, "meat glue" has drawn comparisons to "pink slime." This concerns Ajinomoto, the Japanese company that invented MSG and first introduced transglutaminase in a food additive called Activa.
"We would like this to be approached a little less emotionally, but we understand that people approach food emotionally," Miro Smriga, a spokesman for Ajinomoto, told The Daily.
Restaurants only account for a tiny percentage of Ajinomoto's sales of Activa, the main function of which is to improve the texture of food as diverse as dairy products to deli cold cuts. But media reports have focused on the apparent deception of steak-eating consumers.
"The main point is, you thought you were eating one thing, but it turns out to be quite another," Michele Simon, author of "Appetite for Profit," told The Daily. "But thanks to social media, this approach is turning into a PR disaster."
As with Beef Products, Inc.'s "lean finely textured beef," purveyors of "meat glue" are using technology to transform food. Nebraska-based Fibrimex, which uses proteins found in bovine blood for its bonding method, boasts that its product "will change the way you think about meat."
"You can now offer new cuts of meat never before possible," the company's website states, "at a cost savings to you and your customer without sacrificing quality or flavor."