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Report: Vegetarian hot dogs could contain meat, human DNA

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Posted at 4:20 PM, Oct 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-26 16:37:31-04

A shocking new study with unappetizing results could convince some vegetarians to adopt even stricter diets – when it comes to hot dogs and sausages, at least.

Food analytics startup Clear Food examined 345 samples from 75 different hot dog and sausage brands, finding vegetarian hot dogs to be most problematic. A total of 21 vegetarian samples were tested.
 
More specifically, the study not only found that 10 percent of vegetarian hot dogs contained meat, but – possibly even more alarming -- that a large portion contained traces of human genetic material.
Human DNA was found in only 2 percent of the hot dog samples in total, but in two-thirds of vegetarian samples. The company also found hygiene issues in four of its 21 vegetarian samples.
 
The results spell bad news not only for vegetarian brands, but hot dog brands in general. Clear Food noted that overall, about 14.4 percent of the hot dogs and sausages tested "were problematic.”
 
Overall, the company found inaccuracies in nutritional labels, as well as pork substitutions and unexpected ingredients like chicken and lamb in some samples.
 
So, which brands should you avoid? Unfortunately, Clear Food specified neither which brands rated poorly, nor how the contamination may have occurred. It did, however, identify the most hygienic brands of hot dogs and sausages by assigning a Clear score rating. 
 
That rating signifies a “representation of how closely a product's label claims match its actual molecular contents.”
 
The top five brands identified by Clear Food were Butterball, McCormick, Gardein, Eckrich and Hebrew National.
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