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Study Finds Pork And Human DNA In Vegetarian Hot Dogs


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

3200 Study Finds Pork And Human DNA In Vegetarian Hot Dogs
Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock

American hot dogs are often greeted with deep suspicion by almost everyone that eats them, with the nutritional content assumed to be as low as the mystery of their contents is high. Nevertheless, millions are consumed in the United States, with some figures suggesting at least 1 billion packs are sold every single year. Well, there’s some bad news for hot dog connoisseurs today: Namely, human DNA has been found in 2% of the samples. In vegetarian hot dogs, human DNA was found in two-thirds of them, as reported by USA Today.

Human DNA does not, of course, mean there are chunks of human in these hot dogs. There is no cannibalism on the sly happening here. Unfortunately, the report does not go into any detail as to what “human DNA” could actually mean. So it’s probably a bit of dandruff or something. No need to panic.


This wasn’t the only significant finding of the report: 10% of the vegetarian hot dogs contained meat, entirely defeating their raison d'être. Also, 14.4% of all hot dogs were problematic in one way or another, such as having so-called “hygienic” issues – meaning that a “non-harmful contaminant” has been inadvertently “introduced” to the hot dog – or “substitution issues,” meaning ingredients turned up that weren't on the label. For example, in a variety of products, chicken, beef, turkey and lamb appeared specifically where they were not supposed to. Perhaps oddly, two-thirds of all hygiene issues were reported to be in the vegetarian products.

The research has been done by Clear Foods, an organization that specializes in “genomic technology,” basically breaking down the molecular components of something and assessing where each component originally came from. By looking at 345 hot dogs and sausages from 75 different brands sold at 10 different food retailers, the company, a subset of Clear Labs, came to their conclusions.

The report points out that “pork is a particularly unwelcome substitution in any food” when the religious backgrounds of some consumers are taken into account, finding that pork turned up erroneously in 3% of its samples, mainly in chicken and turkey sausages.

The online report concludes with this philanthropic sentiment: “While some of these substitutions, hygienic issues, other variances, or off-label ingredients may be permitted by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), our scientific disclosure allows you, as the consumer, to decide whether the variance or problems meet your personal standard in your buying decision.” How thoughtful!


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