Transglutaminase (Activa)

Transglutaminase is affectionately called “meat glue”. It is sold to Chefs under the trade name Activa™. There may be other brands out there. It was discovered back in 1959 as a component of the blood clotting complement.  A common example of culinary use is to bind a bacon wrap to another protein (steak, salmon, etc).  Another example seen was to bind salmon tips (leftover from fillets) wrapped in a tilapia filet.  Using transglutaminase, proteins will bind in refrigeration and hold after cooking.

Hazards
None. Is it safe? Yes. This enzyme is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and has been used for more than 10 years in meats and poultry. For foodservice a “glued” meat product is considered non-intact.

Controls
This product would not be considered a “special process”. It would not require HACCP or a food safety plan under the US FDA model Food Code.  However, it is noted above that cooking of these foods must be done to the comminuted or ground temperature for red meats of 155°F or above. Poultry would be 165°F or above. The full strength enzyme preparation is not toxic. Therefore, there is little concern for storing the raw chemical in a foodservice environment.  This product would require consumer disclosure on a label, but not a menu.  It is not a known allergen.

More: USDA Food Safety “Answers” |  Federal Register Notice of GRAS | Ajinomoto Sell Sheet

The FDA has made a final rule that “covered” retail and foodservice establishments must make calorie information available on their menus to help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.  The deadline for implementation is December 1, 2015. (UPDATE!!!! – The FDA has extended the compliance date to December 2016).

A covered establishment: (1) be part of a chain of 20 or more locations, (2) doing business under the same name, and (3) offering for sale substantially the same menu items.

Examples of restaurant-type foods that are covered when sold by a facility that is part of a chain with 20 or more locations include:

  • Meals from sit-down restaurants
  • Foods purchased at drive-through windows
  • Take-out food, such as pizza
  • Foods, such as made-to-order sandwiches, ordered from a menu or menu board at a delicatessen
  • Foods you serve yourself from a salad or hot food bar
  • Muffins at a bakery or coffee shop
  • Popcorn purchased at a movie theater or amusement park
  • A scoop of ice cream, milk shake or sundae from an ice cream store
  • Hot dogs or frozen drinks prepared on site in a convenience or warehouse store
  • Certain alcoholic beverages

Foods not covered include: foods purchased in grocery stores or other similar retail food establishments that are typically intended for more than one person to eat and require additional preparation before consuming, such as pounds of deli meats, cheeses, or large-size deli salads.

Covered establishments must (1) disclose calorie information on menus and menu boards for standard menu items; (2) post a succinct statement of a 2000 suggested daily caloric intake on menus and menu boards; and (3) post on menus and menu boards a statement that written nutrition information is available upon request.

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