Your burger may contain some nasty extras, claims Clear Labs, the same food analysts that discovered a tenth of all vegetarian hot dogs contain some quantity of meat. According to the company, the burgers that are so commonly and eagerly eaten may contain traces of human or even rat genetic material.
A new study by Clear Labs, which examined the patties that are placed inside burgers, discovered that your burger may contain some undesirable components that aren’t considered hygienic or safe for human consumption. A few of the samples randomly tested by the company found traces of human and rat DNA, among other irregularities, which might make you ditch your favorite fast food.
Clear Labs claims to have subjected 258 random samples of ground meat, frozen patties, fast-food burgers, and veggie varieties through a number of tests to check for “substitution, hygienic issues, and pathogenic contamination,” reported the Daily Mail. The agency collected the samples from 22 retailers, which were made by 79 brands. As expected, names of the manufacturers and brands have been kept under wraps, but unfortunately, the same level of protection wasn’t extended to the products by the makers or distributors.
The scientists at Clear Labs relied on genomic sequencing, which investigates any organic matter to its DNA level. The company insists it wanted to examine the samples for their nutrition content accuracy. Aspects like calories, carbohydrates, fat, and protein that are mentioned on the products were tested for authenticity. However, their testing revealed the presence of some highly unsavory components.
At least two samples of veggie burgers tested positive for beef DNA. In other words, your vegetarian burgers might contain meat, just like your veggie hot dogs. One sample was found to have traces of rat DNA while another contained human DNA. Four veggie burgers even contained pathogenic DNA. The presence of these disease-causing viruses or bacteria can easily lead to food poisoning.
Worryingly, about 13 percent of all the samples were found to be “problematic.” However, what’s even more concerning is that when veggie burgers were considered, 23.6 percent of products had “some form of discrepancy between product and label.”
While the report doesn’t exactly specify what problems each of the samples had, they showed the presence of matter that wasn’t supposed to be in them or lacked something. However, the researchers did note that all of the 14 products that lacked ingredients mentioned on the labels were vegetarian products, notes the report.
“Our findings suggest that the beef industry as a whole has benefited from stringent regulation and aggressive testing requirements. Vegetarian products, however, were shown to have ‘pervasive issues in food quality.'”
What this means is that while companies making non-vegetarian burgers do offer relatively safer products, makers of vegetarian burgers regularly mention components that are never added or are completely absent in their products. This can be a case of misleading advertising, added Clear Labs.
“The study should help inform vegetarian burger producers of unknown risks and the potential need for more stringent safety measures, and manufacturers should ensure there is clear, consistent, and adamant labeling of best-handling practices at home on all products.”
For example, one sample which was sold as a “black bean burger” contained no black beans at all, reported SF Gate. In another sample, researchers discovered pork was substituted for ground beef, reported Fortune. While those who love all types of meat won’t have any problem and won’t notice the substitution; Jews, Muslims, and followers of other religions that do not consume pork, could take offense.
Should you give up burgers? Clear Labs has found human, rat DNA in only one to two samples. Moreover, the company added that mere presence of DNA isn’t risky. Millions of active cells of the bacteria would be required to make you sick. It is quite common to find minute traces of such nasty components, but that doesn’t mean that all the products are unfit for human consumption.
[Photo by Cate Gillon/Getty Images]