Thursday, February 16, 2012

Where's the Beef?

Some of you might remember the 1984 Wendy’s “Fluffy Bun” commercial on which three elderly ladies closely examine a micro beef patty at the fictional burger joint, Fluffy Bun, “Home of the Big Bun”.  Having anticipated a big juicy burger, two of the ladies begin to question the size of Fluffy Bun’ patty and the 81 year old fireball, Clara Peller starts yelling angrily, “Where’s the beef?”  What a hoot!

Twenty-seven years later…

 Genetically modified bacteria in your beef patty ( should be of greater concern than its size.  The FDA has approved the use of transglutaminase (TG), a coagulation enzyme extracted from a bacterial broth, as being safe (

According to the Federal Register notice Sec. 319.15:

“Fabricated beef steak shall be prepared

by comminuting and forming the product

 from fresh and/or frozen meat.

Transglutaminase enzyme at levels of up to 65 ppm may be used as a binder”

In other words, it is acceptable to sell pieces of meat too small to serve, bone, skin, etc. mixed together with “meat glue” which maintains whatever creative form the producer imagines (

 While the fabricated meat purchased in a grocery store is to be labeled as “formed” or “reformed,” there is no such FDA requirement for meat ordered in a restaurant.  That “prime rib” just may be scraps that are typically thrown to Fido.

Speaking of dogs… Assuming that it was mocking the use of “meat glue,” I laughed out loud when I first read this, however according to Chef Dave from the French Culinary Institute (, this is a legitimate way of testing the “quality” of TG!  Check this out!

“How to test meat glue: a) Rub a lot of meat glue into a piece of raw chicken; b) if it just smells like chicken your glue is no good; c) If it smells like wet dog you're good to go!”

While the smell supposedly dissipates in a few minutes, consuming dangerous bacteria is of greater concern.  Most of us know that if we sear a piece of beef, we destroy any potential food borne illness which is most often found on the surface.  However, what happens when we glue multiple pieces together?  The dangerous toxins which normally live on the exterior are now mingled into every seam.  This is why E coli outbreaks from ground beef are more common than from whole cuts!  Searing this fabricated “cut” would be of little benefit!  But…. never fear!  TG is classified by our trusty FDA as a GRAS product (generally recognized as safe) when used properly.

While some argue that we’ve been safely using gelatin for years, TG is not gelatin.  Instead, TG has the property to bind protein rich foods like meat, poultry and seafood, or foods mixed with gelatin which is a protein.

While I don’t agree with his conclusion, Chef Dave has obviously done his homework!  He accurately explains that TG-ases are normally found in the human body holding a number of important roles including blood clotting.  However, when they are improperly regulated, they are associated with accumulation of plaque causing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease, as well as cataracts, arteriosclerosis, etc.  Dave concludes, “None of these are related to eating food made with mTG, but rather due to imbalances in the body’s ability to regulate the TG that it produces.” Wouldn’t you think that consuming more TG than what the body deems necessary to produce would affect the body’s ability to regulate a microbial TG, especially for those having any of these pre-existing health issues?  I’m just sayin’.  (Transglutaminases in Disease, Soo-Youl Kim, et al., Neurochemistry International 40 (2002), 85-103).

Considering that most fast food chains and many restaurants now serve cloned beef, often plagued with diseases ( ), glued together with isolated bacterial enzymes, we need some feisty consumers like Clara to rekindle the “Where’s the beef” slogan and develop an infomercial to expose these risky practices.  In fact…, my son, Jake just may be our best candidate!

On a beautiful fall day, I took Jake, who was then 3 years old, to an outdoor pork BBQ.  Our taste buds were tantalized while standing in line to get our sizzling pork loin sandwiches!  After finding an empty table where we could enjoy the meal we had long been waiting for, Jake removed the top half of the bun from his sandwich, peeked inside and queried loudly enough for all those around to hear, “Where’s the beef?”



P.S.  Please feel free to contact me with questions, thoughts, topics you’d like to ponder or to read past articles at:  You may also contact me at:

             Bonnie Jaeckle

             In Search of the Whole-Hearted Life

             Diagonal Progress

             505 Jefferson St.

             Diagonal, IA 50845


The author of this article does not endorse everything represented on/in suggested links, books, etc.  Each of us is accountable to God to weigh everything according to His Word.  All content of this article is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech.

No comments:

Post a Comment