The Hot Dog Report released by Clear Food--a company that conducts genetic testing on food products--last week revealed that 10 percent of vegetarian hot dogs they tested contained meat. The group also discovered meat in vegetarian breakfast sausage.
Clear Food analyzed a total of 345 hot dog samples from 75 brands. This included both meat-based and meat-free products. Findings included:
- Evidence of chicken (in 10 samples), beef (in 4 samples), turkey (in 3 samples), and lamb (in 2 samples) in products that were not supposed to contain those ingredients.
- Products that were labeled pork-free--a staple in Kosher diets for religious reasons--actually did contain traces of pork.
- Some product labels indicated the inclusion of only one type of meat, but testing showed that two or more meats were present.
- Other products claimed to include certain ingredients that testing never detected.
- Approximately 2 percent of all tested samples had hygiene issues that included traces of human DNA. Most of these items were vegetarian hot dogs.
Clear Food did indicate which brands they believe to be the most trustworthy in terms of serving consumers what their food labels promise. For vegetarians, the most trusted brand was Trader Joe’s--specifically for their soy chorizo and meatless corn dogs. For meat eaters, Clear Food gave props to Whole Foods’ 365 brand, Hebrew National, Ball Park, Johnsonville, Oscar Mayer, Aidell’s, and Taveritte’s.
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC) calls Clear Food's report nothing more than a publicity stunt "aimed at fueling the company's Kickstarter account. The organization also claims that the apparent evidence of human DNA found in hot dogs has been exaggerated, as "a single cell or two can cause a sample to test positive." They go on to say that, "In fact, if we tested people, there's a good chance that we might find a beef, pork or poultry cell on them simply from spending time in their kitchens."
NHDSC maintains that since hot dogs are regulated and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture--and meatless ones by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration--that their confidence in hot dogs is just as strong today as it was before Clear Food's report went viral.