If you ever want to enjoy eating hot dogs again, please stop reading this now.
A recent review of 345 hot dogs, sausages, and vegetarian alternatives from 75 brands by the genomic testing group Clear Food found that 14.4% were "problematic," either because the group found ingredients that were not listed on the label in the products, or because a contaminant was found in the meat. Contaminants like human DNA.
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According to the Hot Dog Report, "Clear Food found human DNA in 2% of the samples, and in 2/3rds of the vegetarian samples." (To clarify, that means that 2/3s of the 2% of product that contained human DNA were vegetarian, not that 2/3s of vegetarian products contain human DNA. Shudder.) Human DNA can be found in fingernails, hair, and the bodily fluids you would not want to eat.
The report also found that a number of products labeled as vegetarian were not vegetarian. The testers found that 10% of products contained chicken and pork. And, the group reported, nearly 1/5 of the vegetarian foods they tested were found to be sullied by non-harmful contaminants, including the human DNA.
Clear Food's method of testing food is novel. The startup explains:
We use genomic analysis technology that has never before been available at the hands of consumers to translate a food's molecular profile into actionable information that consumers can use to find safe and healthy foods, at the best value.
Clear Food is a recent initiative of Clear Labs, a group founded in 2013 by two former employees at genomics firms, The Atlantic reports.
The group also offers some tips for people who want to keep eating hot dogs, but ones without human DNA or unwanted meats, by ranking the cleanest products they found. At the top of the list is Taverrite's Mild Italian Pork Sausage. The group adds that Trader Joe's vegetarian products are the most likely to be fully vegetarian.
Still, you might want to consider ditching hot dogs altogether. The World Health Organization warned today that processed meats—like hot dogs—can cause cancer. Bad day for hot dogs.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.