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Production

The principle of binding and bonding foodstuffs has been common practice for many centuries. A well-known example of this is mixing an egg into minced meat. Other examples are binding a dessert with a leaf of gelatine, or using blood to make black pudding.
Some of these binders or bonding agents come from plants, such as potatoes (potato starch) or grains. Others, such as gelatine, are based on animal protein.

Natural animal proteins and enzymes are used to make combined meat products in Europe. The different proteins and enzymes all have their own properties and origin. The way in which they are used also differs. Some products need heating, for example, while others do not.

Basically, two types of bonding agents are used to make combined meat products: the enzyme transglutaminase, and the combination of the protein fibrinogen and the enzyme thrombin.

Transglutaminase

Transglutaminase is a microbiological enzyme that is found in the human body, which causes cross-links to be created between protein particles, as a result of which the proteins are bonded. When transglutaminase is used in combined meat products, a heat treatment is usually applied and often ingredients such as salt are added. Information about the use of transglutaminase is available on www.ajinomoto.com

Fibrinogen and thrombin

The protein fibrinogen and the natural enzyme thrombin occur in the blood of all animals (and humans). Thrombin is a natural enzyme that triggers a coagulation process in blood. The protein fibrinogen helps blood to coagulate. Thrombin disappears without trace during this process. Fibrinogen contains minuscule essential elements that can cause blood to bind (coagulate). This is how a skin wound heals.

The natural fibrinogen and the thrombin work in the same way when bonding meat. No heat treatment is necessary for this. The process takes place all by itself. When fibrinogen and thrombin (fibrin) are used, the original structure of the meat remains intact.
When combined meat products are created using fibrinogen and thrombin, the same substances that are already present in the meat are used.

Depending on the product, combined meat products are made from large and small pieces of meat. The meat is mixed with fibrinogen and thrombin, causing a natural process by which the pieces of meat bond together, while retaining the original texture of the meat. The meat itself does not change. However, it is easy to form in a mould after which it can be cut into meat products that perfectly complement consumers' wishes.