A surprising and disturbing number of hot dog brands contain, of all things, human DNA, a study has found. In fact, an independent study found that 2 percent of all hot dogs tested contained human DNA. And if that wasn’t bad enough for those who are consumers of one of America’s most beloved foods, those expecting no meat whatsoever in vegetarian hot dogs will be shocked to find that some two/thirds of the “meatless” hot dogs also had human DNA mixed in with their sausage ingredients.
CBS News reported October 25 that Clear Foods released the findings of a study conducted on 75 brands of hot dogs carried by 10 retailers and discovered that there were some ingredients not listed on the labels. And although 2 percent of the hot dogs tested contain human DNA, that number rises to a disturbing 66.6 percent among vegetarian hot dog brands. Adding insult to injury for vegetarians is the fact that 10 percent of those same brands contain some kind of meat.
In addition to unwanted — and unlabeled — meat products in the average hot dog (not to mention the human DNA), the study found that pork substitution was a common practice across the spectrum of brands tested. This presents a problem for those who do not eat pork for religious reasons. Said substitution takes place in 3 percent of the hot dog brands and the meat is used most often in place of turkey and/or chicken. On a more positive bent, the report noted that all products labeled Kosher that were tested were 100 percent pork free.
But vegetarians seem to be the hardest hit. Besides the two-thirds tally with samples containing human DNA, that same percentage (67 percent) was also the amount vegetarian samples accounted for regarding hygienic issues among all the hot dog samples tested. The report also found that among vegetarian hot dog brands, the protein levels were often exaggerated, sometimes as much as 2.5 times.
WABC-TV in New York pointed out that the report does not offer information on how any of the meat cross-contamination might have occurred in the products. Nor does the report suggest how human DNA may have infiltrated the hot dog and sausage manufacturing process.
The Clear Foods report is undeniably shocking, but it should be noted that there are plenty of national brands that rise to good hygiene standards, not to mention manufacturing practices that produce the product the label maintains the consumer is purchasing. Among those are: Butterball, McCormick, Jennie-O, Oscar Mayer, Eckrich, Hebrew National, and Boar’s Head. Also compiled were a list of the best of the brands, wherein Oscar Mayer Premium Jumbo Beef Franks led the list. Ball Park Angus Beef Franks and Hebrew National Franks got honorable mentions.
Of the ten retailers, Target received the highest score. Walmart and Safeway also made the top three.
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans spent $2.5 billion on hot dogs last year. But that’s not all: Another $2.74 billion was spent on dinner sausages, and over a half-billion was spent on breakfast sausage.