Crosslinking and splitting proteins

Enzymes for the production of meat products

Enzyme für die Herstellung von Fleischprodukten

In processing meat and meat products, manufacturers try to use the slaughtered animals as completely as possible. In doing so, enzymes are very important and efficient aids for enabling this. In addition to processing meat by-products like organs and bones, manufacturers aim at maximising the meat yield by using residual meat sticking to the bone, and also at adjusting certain characteristics of the final products.

Two methods are frequently used, crosslinking and splitting linkages in meat proteins, known as peptide bonds. Using transglutaminase, proteins can be specifically crosslinked in order to reconstitute residual meat pieces, making it accessible for human consumption.

On the other hand, by selectively breaking down peptide bonds in myofibrils and connective tissue, meat can be tenderised.

  • Transglutaminase crosslinks proteins to reconstitute meat pieces or to improve the texture of sausage products.

  • Plant proteases and microbial Collagenases break down myofibril and connective tissue proteins to tenderise meat.

Making maximum use of carcasses and reducing energy consumption are increasingly important in the processing of meat and meat by-products. Enzymes are very efficient tools for making good use of residual meat, and reducing maturing and cooking times.

Anika Rockel, Enzyme Application Engineer

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Transglutaminase for meat products

Protein crosslinking

Reconstituting meat products

Transglutaminase creates new linkages within and between proteins. The resulting peptide bonds link primarily at the ends of the amino acids L-glutamine and L-lysine. The meat industry makes use of this function to combine individual meat pieces, improve the texture of sausage products, and improve the cohesion of sausage slices.

The use of microbial transglutaminases can thus maximise meat yield and optimise the characteristics of meat products.


  • Use of residual meat
  • Improved meat binding
  • More bite in emulsified sausage products
  • Higher temperature tolerance


  • Reconstitution of meat pieces
  • Cooked ham
  • Emulsified sausage 
  • Canned meat
  • Fish applications (like surimi)

Splitting proteins

Tenderising meat

The toughness of insufficiently matured meat is due primarily to myofibrillar proteins and structural proteins in connective tissue. The use of enzymes to break down these usually very resistant proteins makes the meat tender, juicier, and generally better tasting.
Plant proteases like papain and bromelain are familiar meat tenderisers and thus play a key role. Microbial Collagenases are also used to selectively break down collagen, the main protein in connective tissue.


  • Controlled tenderising
  • More juiciness
  • Improved flavour
  • Reduced maturing and cooking effort
  • Higher consumer acceptance


  • Tenderising of all types of meat
  • Use of by-products
Proteases as meat tenderisers

Meat laboratory

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Stern-Technology Center

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