A food analytics company claims veggie hot dogs may contain meat, apart from other mysterious and sometimes downright gross ingredients. The report indicates those who stick to vegetarian products are often misled by labels that may not indicate some of the ingredients or may exaggerate the health benefits.
A report called “Clear Food – The Hot Dog Report,” compiled by Clear Labs, a food analytics company in the Bay Area, claims to expose some startling facts about the food industry, especially the mass-produced food products, including veggie hot dogs. The company claims, the aim of the report is to “shake up the food manufacturing industry using genetic testing.”
The technology could make food-related illnesses a thing of the past. The Clear Food “Hot Dog Report” is first of a series, which was compiled to “guide consumers towards more informed grocery shopping decisions by analyzing how closely the actual content of a food matches up to what the label claims.” Essentially, the company seems to be using genetic sequencing to analyze the contents in the organic matter.
The company chose mass-produced hot dogs and sausages, and analyzed about 345 samples from 75 individual brands and 10 different retailers. What it found will definitely make you queasy. About 14.4 percent of the samples analyzed “were problematic in some way.” Though the company hasn’t listed the brands that violated the norms, it did add the various issues with the hot dogs and the meat. The report claims the most common problem with the hot dogs was “mystery meat” that wasn’t listed anywhere on the labels. About 3 percent of the hot dogs contained pork that wasn’t mentioned on the packaging, while a few other products indicated presence of chicken and lamb.
However, the most concerning fact was 10 percent of the hot dogs, which the companies claimed were vegetarian, actually contained meat. The testing also revealed that 2 percent of the samples actually contained human DNA, which might imply presence of bodily fluids or even fecal matter. “Two-thirds of the human DNA samples were vegetarian samples,” claims the report. The report though, doesn’t elaborate any further, about the specific source of the human DNA, reported CNN.
Apart from the presence of meat in veggie hot dogs and mystery meat in other samples, the report also proved a lot of inaccuracies and exaggeration when it came to the labels and what the company claimed the products offered in terms of nutritional benefits. The most inaccurately depicted values were for the protein contained. Some of the numbers mentioned on the label were as high as 250 percent when cross verified with the actual product. The report claims there were rampant nutritional label inaccuracies.
Who to trust? Clear Foods did not name the culprits that made veggie hot dogs which actually contained meat, but did categorically mention the companies that can be trusted, based on the samples tested. According to the report, Classic Oscar Mayer beef franks is the brand that can truly trusted, followed by Ball Park and Hebrew National. Kosher brands managed to offer products that were devoid of pork, but those who want to steer clear of pork completely would have to avoid chicken sausages, as well. Overall, Butterball, McCormick, Eckrich, and Hebrew National managed to score 96 out of 100 in Clear Food’s formula on food safety and adulteration.
Those who wish to eat veggie hot dogs that don’t contain any meat, Clear Foods’ report advises sticking to Trader Joe’s. Despite the exhaustive report, the company did categorically mention that there were a lot more brands that weren’t tested. The words of Clear Labs co-founders Sasan Amini and Mahni Ghorashi follow.
“Any type of problem you’re reporting tends to be a minority problem if you look at the overall hot dog or sausage industry. This means that there are many (brands) out there that do not have any problems.”
Clear Foods recently launched a Kickstarter campaign. The company plans to conduct more such testing. Interestingly, those who decide to donate get to decide the next mass-produced food item to be tested. Though the first choice was veggie hot dogs, which the company proved may contain meat, the next report could be on burgers, coffee, wine, sushi, and gluten-free products, reported MSN.
[Photo by Dean Belcher / Getty Images]