Hot dogs — both vegetarian and meat-based — contain a lot more than you bargained for, according to reports.
The study was conducted by Clear Food, a food analytics startup, 10% of vegetarian hot dog products contain meat. What’s worst? The company found hygiene issues in four of its 21 vegetarian samples. It also found human DNA in 2% of its hot dog samples.
Their goal wasn’t to freak everyone out about eating hot dogs – but let’s face it, most of us already assume our sausages contain a few wildcard ingredients – but to give us more scientific information with which to make our dietary decisions.
While some of these substitutions, hygienic issues, other variances, or off-label ingredients may be permitted by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration], our scientific disclosure allows you, as the consumer, to decide whether the variance or problems meet your personal standard in your buying decision,” Clear Food explains.
The genomic analysis involved 345 different hot dog or sausage products from 75 brands, purchased at 10 different retailers in the US. Molecular biologists at Clear Labs then extracted the DNA from samples of these products and matched them to the genetic code of different animals.
What they found was that 14.4 percent of the items tested were problematic in some way, either as a result of contamination – which means that a non-harmful contaminant was found, most often human DNA – or substitution, which is where another food ingredient that’s not on the label has been added.
Ten products tested contained chicken that weren’t meant to, four contained beef, three contained turkey, two contained lamb and, worryingly, nine contained pork. That may not bother a lot of people, but it means that 3 percent of the sausage and hot dog products tested contained a type of meat that’s often excluded for religious reasons.
In most cases, pork found its way into chicken and turkey sausages. Pork substitution was an issue in products across the price spectrum being sold at a wide variety of retailers,” said Clear Food.
Human DNA was found in 2 percent of the samples, which doesn’t mean that there were traces of human meat in the sausages, but simply that there was some kind of contamination, so that could be through a stray hair or skin cells, or potentially even saliva.
Vegetarian hot dog products surprisingly fared the worst in this regard, with four out of the 21 products tested containing human DNA. And, yep, 10 percent of them contained meat.
We found chicken in a vegetarian breakfast sausage and pork in a vegetarian hot dog,” the report explains.
There were also issues with the nutritional content listed on labels, with the analysis showing that protein content could be exaggerated up to 2.5 times.
Surprisingly, the good news from the report is that the scientists found no correlation between price and quality. But still, a word of warning, the scientists only looked at one sample of each product, so it’s hard to get a clear picture from that limited information about the overall safety and accuracy of an entire product line or brand.
It’ll always be up to you, though.