Market Overview

Meat Glue Harbors Rogue Diseases, Government Fails to Intervene

It should come as no surprise that our government is yet again neglecting the food supply. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just decided to allow diseases to be passed through glued-together meat products, and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) turned a blind eye to salmonella poisoning in sushi fillets.

In a cost-cutting effort to save scraps of meat that would otherwise be discarded, a white powder called transglutaminase, better known as “meat glue,” is used to recreate full meat steaks. Unlike normal fillets, when pieces of meat are glued together there is no way to ensure that bacteria such as E. Coli are completely wiped out. The USDA does not oversee transglutaminase, either, which allows food-borne illnesses to be added to steaks through the “glue” that binds the meat scraps.

Faced with its decision about gluing meat together, the USDA declared that transglutaminase is safe to eat, despite obvious health risks. California State Senator Ted Lieu is one of many politicians opposed to the declaration. In his opinion, the raw meat industries such as sushi pose too great a risk to consumers to allow glued-together fillets to be served without stricter sanitization regulations.

Of course, the USDA is not the only government agency attracting headlines about poor oversight of the food industry. In late April, 258 people from 24 states were infected with outbreak strains of Salmonella after the FDA failed to enforce meat labeling practices. The illness, which hospitalized 32 of the infected victims, is alleged to have come from a frozen raw yellowfin tuna produced by Moon Marine USA. The fish was labeled “cook before consumption” yet was served raw as sushi. Moreover, the nutrition label on the packaging was strangely formatted, without a formal FDA design or ingredient listing.

After dozens of people complained about disease symptoms, FDA inspectors found that Moon Marine Fishery was negligent in the following areas:

  • Controls during cutting, scraping and vacuum packaging to prevent the growth of pathogens and histamine
  • Clostridium botulinium and allergen labeling on packaging
  • Metal detection
  • Monitoring for temperature on shipment vessels and testing for histamine when receiving tuna to make sure temperature wasn't too high on the harvesting vessel

The USDA's lax treatment of the meat industry comes as a surprise to many who are accustomed to its allegedly strict regulations (think Grade A). Most consumers expect all products within a meat product to be regulated before the USDA will put its seal of approval on the product. Wakeup call: meat glue is not.

The USDA has plenty of resources available to test the quality of food on our supermarket shelves. On a recent Dateline interview, laboratory company Chromadex (CDXC) volunteered its laboratory for government testing after dietary supplement approval of a vitamin caused hair loss because, yet again, the government failed to realize that the vitamin had over 1,000% more of a damaging substance. (Chromadex -- not the government -- exposed a rouge testing company that simply rubber-stamped the vitamin without actually testing its components.)

Needless to say, citizens await action from the USDA and FDA with their daily food and lives at stake. Let us simply hope that it would not have taken one of those 32 hospitalizations to die before the government does something about the diseases in our food supply.

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