California Senator Lieu calls on USDA to investigate so-called 'meat glue', a white powder used to rebuild steaks out of pieces of meat that would normally be discarded
May 4, 2012
– In response to concerns about consumer safety, Sen. Ted W. Lieu of Torrance today released the following letter he sent today to the USDA concerning the use of ‘meat glue’ in restaurants and by food suppliers.
May 3, 2012
Alfred V. Almanza, Administrator
Food Safety and Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250-3700
Via fax (202 205-0158) and mail
Dear Administrator Almanza:
Recent media investigations have revealed that transglutaminase, also known as “meat glue,” may pose health risks to consumers. Meat glue is used to hold together disparate parts of meat products to form a larger piece of meat. Some food suppliers, restaurants, and banquet facilities will provide steak, such as filet mignon, that was actually composed of different meat parts glued together by transglutaminase. These types of “reformed” meat can pose several problems. For the below reasons, I respectfully request the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to thoroughly investigate the industry’s use of meat glue, the possible dangers posed by meat glue, and how consumers can be warned that they are eating glued meat.
First, if a whole steak was actually composed of different meat parts that were glued together, the center portions of the steak can be contaminated. The outside parts of the meat now become the inside parts of the new steak. If that “reformed” steak is not thoroughly cooked and served rare or medium rare, the inside portions of the steak can still be contaminated and cause sickness to the consumer.
Second, if a steak is composed of different meat parts from different animals and a food illness outbreak occurs, it makes it far more difficult to trace what caused the food illness.
Third, there are stories of transglutaminase causing allergic or other reactions in unwary consumers.
Fourth—as a matter of honesty and the consumer’s right to know—food suppliers, restaurants, and banquet facilities should not be deceiving the public into thinking they are eating a whole steak if in fact the steak was glued together from various meat parts.
If you have any questions or need additional information, I can be reached at (916) 651-4028. Thank you for your consideration.
TED W. LIEU
For more, including video on this issue, please visit Lieu’s Web site at the address below.
Ted W. Lieu chairs the Senate Labor Committee and represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance, as well as portions of Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Pedro. For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/lieu