MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: Why does some food stick like glue to the plate after eating?

Date: Mon Oct 1 08:09:38 2001
Posted By: Joe Regenstein, Faculty, Food Science
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 1001542713.Ch

Traditional glues are often made from materials very similar to those we 
eat. Glues need to have a property of stickiness and tackiness -- protein 
molecules, among others, often have these properties.  For example, 
gelatin, which is obtained from collagen (a major component of many 
biological tissues, including muscle, bone, and hides) is a protein that we 
use in food and to make glue.  Milk protein is the source for "Elmer's" 
glue - a popular white glue in the U.S.  Egg proteins are known for their 
stickiness which is why we often dip foods to be coated in egg or egg 
white. As the protein dries it forms a film that can adhere to materials by 
various types of bonds.  That is what a glue is. So it is not surprising 
that these same materials will stick to the plate or pan when they dry. The 
practical consequences is that you should not leave the dishes "overnight" 
but clean them immediately after the meal. (This is also a good sanitary 

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