By Dave Chung
If you’ve read about what’s in your hot dog or how it’s made, it’s about to get a little bit worse, even for vegetarians.
Clear Food analyzed 345 individual hot dogs and sausages from seventy-five different brands sold at ten food retailers.
In a recent study titled “The Hot Dog Report” by Clear Food, which uses next-generation technology to analyze the world’s foods at a molecular level, Clear Food found that 2% of hot dog samples contained human DNA. Also, Clear Food’s tests revealed 10% of vegetarian hot dog products sampled contained meat.
Do Americans eat that many hot dogs and sausages? Yes, yes they do. Last year, Americans spent $2.5 billion on hot dogs, $2.74 billion on dinner sausages, and over $500 million on breakfast sausages.
To test a wide range of products, the report sampled 345 hot dogs and sausages across 75 brands and 10 different retailers. Of the many hot dogs analyzed for this report, 14.4% were found to be problematic in some way. Problematic hot dogs and sausages included hygienic issues, when some sort of non-harmful contaminant is found in the food (usually human DNA), and substitutions, when ingredients are added that do not show up on the label.
For example, Clear Food found evidence of chicken (10 samples), beef (4 samples), turkey (3 samples), and lamb (2 samples) in products that didn’t list those ingredients. Clear Food found pork substitution in 3% of the samples tested. Most commonly, pork was found in chicken and turkey sausages across a wide variety of retailers.
In short, if you want to avoid pork, you’re probably better off avoiding chicken and turkey sausages.
If you’re vegetarian and think your veggie dog is meat-free, think again. Clear Food found meat in one out of ten of the products it sampled. For example, Clear food found chicken in a vegetarian breakfast sausage and pork in a vegetarian hot dog. Even worse, vegetarian items made up 67% of the hygienic issues found in the report. Also, Clear Food found some vegetarian products exaggerated the amount of protein in the item by as much as 2.5 times.
Basically, if you’re a strict vegetarian who is easily grossed out by the thought of a little human DNA in your food, you might be better off avoiding veggie dogs.
Despite finding some questionable results in the country’s favorite mystery meat and non-meat, Clear Food found that there are a number of hot dog manufacturers, large and small, that are producing high-quality hot dogs with integrity, including Butterball, Gardein, McCormick, Eckrich, and Hebrew National.