Study: Rat and human DNA found in burger products

Nearly one in four vegetarian products had inaccurate labeling, Clear Foods found

Smoke wafts up as hamburgers are cooked on a grill outside the White House in Washington on July 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(WFLA/WOOD) —  The company that uncovered some questionable ingredients in dozens of regular and vegetarian hot dogs is at it again.

This time, Clear Labs broke down the actual list of ingredients in vegetarian and traditional burger products and found a few offensive extras, like rat DNA and human DNA.

The California-based research company analyzed 258 samples of ground meat, frozen patties, fast-food burger products and vegetarian burger products from 79 brands and 22 retailers.

Clear Labs uses high-tech testing to screen food to see if the food actually contains what is listed on its packaging. The food tests screen for substituted ingredients, contamination, gluten, toxic fungi and plants, other allergens and missing ingredients. The company also examined food to see if it contains the same amount of nutrients that is listed on its packaging.

our-findings
Graphic courtesy Clear Labs

Clear Labs’ hamburger report uncovered some disturbing results for carnivores and vegetarians, including:

  • Meat found in two vegetarian products
  • No black beans in one black bean burger
  • Three cases of rat DNA in a fast food burger, vegetarian burger and ground meat sample
  • One case of human DNA in a vegetarian product
  • Two cases of beef DNA in vegetarian products
  • All 14 products missing ingredients listed on their labels were vegetarian

 

percentage-problematic-products
Graphic courtesy Clear Labs

Clear Labs said in its report that vegetarian products did not fare well, with 23.6 percent of tested products showing some form of discrepancy between the label and actual product.

Clear Labs said that it identified substitution problems, hygienic issues and pathogenic contamination in 13.6 percent of the 258 burger products it analyzed. The lab said researchers found several cases of substitutions or unexpected ingredients, including meat that was not on a product’s label.

The tests found evidence of substitution in 16 products or 6.6 percent of all samples including beef, chicken, turkey, pork, rye, and sunchoke in products that were not supposed to have these ingredients.

The report did yield some positive news: of the samples Clear Labs analyzed, only 1.6 percent had hygienic issues.

hygenic
Graphic courtesy Clear Labs

“The low incidence of hygienic issues surfaced by our study is a testament to the burger industry as a whole and the stringent protocols for safe food handling. As noted by the FDA, certain low levels of contamination are acceptable,” said Clear Labs in the report.

Human DNA was found in one frozen vegetarian burger sample. The tests cannot tell the exact source of the DNA. However, Clear Labs said it most likely came from hair, skin or a fingernail that was accidentally mixed in.

Rat DNA was found in three samples: a fast food burger, a ground meat sample and a vegetarian burger. Clear Labs said that human and rat DNA is unpleasant, but will not likely harm your health.

When 24 Hour News 8 contacted Clear Labs to inquire what samples were used in the report, the company said it does not release the names of any specific brands or products it tests.

“…our goal with these reports is to provide the food industry with actionable intelligence they can use to identify opportunities and weak spots in their supply chain, not to undermine the hard work the food industry does day in and day out to keep consumers safe,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement emailed to 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday.

To read the Clear Labs’ full report, visit the company’s website.


The original version of this story was first posted on WFLA.com.

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