Like Hot Dogs Made of Humans? You May Be in Luck

Human DNA found in franks, per molecular report
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2015 11:16 AM CDT
Like Hot Dogs Made of Humans? You May Be in Luck
Doggone DNA testing.   (Shutterstock)

"Soylent Green is made out of people!" may be back to haunt a true-blue American staple: hot dogs. Using a proprietary "next-generation genomic sequencing workflow" known as Clear Food, Clear Labs analyzed 345 hot dogs and sausages at the molecular level from 75 brands at 10 retailers, CBS News reports. The results showed 14.4% of the meat was "problematic," meaning a product either had a substituted ingredient that isn't on the food label, or a "hygienic issue" in which a "non-harmful contaminant" was found. On the substitution level, 10% of vegetarian products in this category contained meat. On the non-harmful contaminant level, human DNA (yes, as in from people) was found in 2% of the samples tested—and in two-thirds of the vegetarian samples.

Clear Labs, which says its molecular database of 10,000 or so items is the largest on Earth, wants to examine a different food category each month to fight food fraud, which the Congressional Research Service says affects about 10% of all commercially produced food, per the Atlantic. "We expected to find some deviations because it is a complex supply chain, but this is also about intentional adulteration for economic gain, which is basically fraud," a company co-founder tells the magazine about the hot dog results. Backers of Clear Foods' Kickstarter campaign will select each month's subject; Eater notes upcoming categories could include sushi, wine, and gluten-free products. If you can't envision attending a baseball game without a kraut-covered frank, there's some good news: Clear Food says "there are a number of hot dog manufacturers, large and small, that are producing high-quality hot dogs with integrity," including the Butterball and Hebrew National brands. (It's not the only bad news for hot dogs on this Monday.)

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