Food & Beverage

Study finds human DNA in some hot dog brands

Bob Ingelhart | E+ | Getty Images

Do you really want to know what's in a hot dog? Well, Clear Food, a company that genetically tests food products, did, and their results could make you a little queasy.

Helmed by Sasan Amini, a genomicist, and Mahni Ghorashi, the former head of marketing of Bina Technologies, Clear Food is a branch of Clear Labs, a company that analyzes food at a molecular level to determine the quality of brands.

The company tested 345 hot dog and sausage samples from 75 brands to see if the product matched what was described on the package.

It turns out that 14.4 percent of the samples were... not as advertised.

Clear Food found that the hot dogs and sausages either included substitutions or had hygienic issues.

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In several cases, pork had been added to products that did not mention the meat on the labels or ingredient lists. This included the vegetarian samples. Most often pork had been used as a substitution for chicken or turkey, according to Clear Food.

The company noted that all of the Kosher products that were tested were 100 percent pork-free.

However, 10 percent of the vegetarian products tested contained meat. In addition, 67 percent of the vegetarian samples were recorded as having "hygienic issues," which were not described in detail.

Perhaps the most unsettling discovery by Clear Food is that human DNA was found in 2 percent of all samples and in 66 percent of the vegetarian products.

The report did not disclose which brands had been found to contain the DNA and did not elaborate on what that might entail.

The company also determined that several brands had exaggerated the amount of protein in their products by as much as 2.5 times. So, you may have thought you were getting 25 grams of protein, but you were only getting 10.

Despite these results, Clear Food revealed that most brands scored well on their tests. Butterball was determined to be the best overall hot dog and sausage maker when it came to label and product matches, while Oscar Mayer ranked highest for hot dogs overall.

The company is using Kickstarter to fund 10 more reports similar to their debut study on hot dogs. The group hopes to obtain $100,000 in pledges. Currently, the project has been funded by 205 people and has raised more than $74,000.

Clear Labs is backed by Felicis Ventures, Khosla Ventures and HBM Genomics.