What is transglutaminase? What is it for? Discover its culinary uses. Find out how safe this ingredient is for health !
Food additives, such as preservatives, dyes and fillers. They are widely used in the food industry to improve the taste, texture and color of the products. While some are harmless, others can be harmful to your health. Transglutaminase, better known as “glue of meat”, is a food additive that caused serious controversy, due to its health effects.
What is transglutaminase and what is it for?
Although the glue of the meat may seem a bit frightening, transglutaminase is a natural enzyme in humans, animals and plants. Its function is to help link proteins through the creation of covalent bonds, which is why it is commonly known as the “biological glue of nature”.
In humans and animals, transglutaminases play a role in various physical processes. These include blood coagulation and sperm production. It is also necessary for the growth and development of plants.
The transglutaminase used in foods is produced from blood coagulation factors in animals such as cows, pigs or bacteria. It is usually sold as a powder. The quality of transglutaminase binding makes it a useful ingredient for food producers.
As its nickname suggests, it acts as an adhesive that combines proteins found in popular foods, such as meat, baked goods and cheese.
This allows food producers to improve the texture of food or create products, such as imitation crabmeat, by joining different sources of protein.
Uses of transglutaminase in the culinary world
Even if you try to avoid foods that contain artificial additives, there is still a good chance that you have eaten transglutaminase. It is used in a variety of foods, which include sausages, chicken nuggets, yogurt and cheese.
One study found that the addition of transglutaminase to poultry sausages made from several pieces of chicken led to better texture, water retention and appearance. Chefs in exclusive restaurants even use it to make innovative dishes such as shrimp spaghetti.
Because transglutaminase is so effective in the combination of proteins, it is also commonly used to form a multi-piece piece of meat. For example, a restaurant serving buffet meals can serve steaks, combining pieces of cheaper meat with transglutaminase. It is also used in the production of cheese, yogurt and ice cream.
In addition, it is added to the cooking to improve the stability of the dough, its elasticity, volume and water absorption capacity.
The transglutaminase enzyme in molecular cooking
It is not surprising that there are concerns about the safety of transglutaminase in foods. But the main problem associated with the glue of meat is not necessarily the ingredient itself, but the increased risk of bacterial contamination of the food in which it is used.
When many sections of meat come together, the creation of a piece increases the possibility of bacteria in the food. Some experts also say the meat stuck with this enzyme makes it difficult to cook it.
In addition, it is difficult to identify the source of bacterial infection when dealing with a portion of meat composed of several different protein sources. Another concern is that it can negatively affect people with hypersensitivity to gluten or celiac disease.
Transglutaminase may increase intestinal permeability, which may worsen symptoms in people with celiac disease. This can cause an increase in the allergic load on the immune system. However, there are no scientific studies that directly link transglutaminase with an increased risk of disease. In any case, the investigations are still ongoing.
The European Union banned the use of transglutaminase in foods in 2010 due to safety concerns.
Should the consumption of transglutaminase be avoided?
Although there is currently no evidence linking transglutaminase with a higher risk to health. However, it is understandable that many people want to avoid it.
This may be appropriate for people with weakened immune systems, food allergies, diseases Gastrointestinal as Crohn’s disease and individuals with celiac gluten sensitivity or to prevent foods containing transglutaminase.
In fact, a large consumption of red meat and processed meats is associated with an increased risk of colon cancer and heart disease. If you want to avoid eating foods that contain transglutaminase, it is best to choose all unprocessed foods, whenever possible.
Transglutaminase in food
Remember to abstain from the following foods:
Chicken nuggets produced
Products that contain processed meat
Foods that contain “TG enzyme” or “TGP enzyme”
Fast food or “junk”
Attention! Transglutaminase must be included on the nutrition information label of each product.
Summary: what is transglutaminase and what is its function
It is an enzyme that serves to bind or use as a glue for meat. It is a food additive. The function of transglutaminase is to improve the texture and appearance of food products, such as processed meat.
Read more here about “glue for meat”
Regardless of whether we try to avoid all food additives or only transglutaminases, it is best to stay away from processed products. Instead, we must choose high quality ingredients whenever possible.
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