On the heels of the World Health Organization’s recent announcement that processed meats like bacon and sausage can cause cancer, comes something slightly more terrifying—especially if you prefer vegetarian “meats” like faux hot dogs. According to new research, ten percent of vegetarian hot dogs tested contained actual meat.
The company, Clear Foods, tests genetic sequencing in foods. According to the company website, it “translates quantifiable molecular tests into actionable food data insights.”
And according to its latest round of research, there may be actual meat in vegetarian hot dogs. But that’s not all the researchers found: there were “hygiene issues” in four of the 21 vegetarian hot dog samples, and human DNA was found in 2 percent.
No, that doesn’t mean your veggie dogs contain ground up humans, but it does indicate that a human made the food instead of a machine, which some people don’t consider a bad thing—especially if that human DNA isn’t harmful in nature (fecal matter would be another story).
Clear Foods also tested meat-based hot dogs, finding “nutritional label inaccuracies,” reports CNN, including “pork substitution and some unexpected ingredients, including chicken and lamb,” in products labeled otherwise.
“Clear gave high marks to a variety of manufacturers, both national and regional. Butterball, McCormick, Eckrich and Hebrew National led among national brands, each with a score of 96 out of 100, based on Clear’s formula,” reports CNN.
Because Clear uses proprietary genetic sequencing techniques, it’s difficult for experts outside of the company to analyze the findings. But the results may not be anything to worry about, says Cornell University professor Martin Wiedman, “This is telling us nothing new about hot dogs,” he told CNN. “It’s a sensationalist marketing ploy by companies designed to sell their services.”
As always, when it comes to buying hot dogs—vegetarian or not—consumers should do their research on brands and ingredients first.
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Image: Eduardo Mueses