Worst Fears Confirmed: Your Hot Dog Might Actually Contain Human DNA

by Stacey Leasca

It's been a rough week for meat eaters.

A few days ago, the World Health Organization declared indulging in bacon, deli meat and red meat can cause cancer.

According to the organization's findings, eating just 50 grams of processed meat each day -- the equivalent of two slices of ham -- can increase your risk of colon or colorectal cancer by 18 percent.

The report finds processed meat so egregious, the organization places it in the same category as smoking.

Bacon, hot dog and deli meat lovers all over the world are now forced to think of an alternative for their favorite salty, meaty treats.

But, if you're thinking vegetarian hot dogs are a safe bet, think again.

According to new data by Clear Food, 10 percent of the vegetarian products tested contain meat. Oh, and 2 percent of all hot dogs the company tested contain human DNA.

To come to its findings, Clear Food sampled 345 hot dogs and sausages from 75 different brands.

In total, the company found 14.4 percent of the hot dogs tested to be problematic in some way, including hygiene issues and unreported meat substitutions.

In its findings, the company says,

  • Substitution: We encountered a surprising number of substitutions or unexpected ingredients. We found evidence of meats not found on labels, an absence of ingredients advertised on labels, and meat in some vegetarian products.
  • Hygienic issues: Clear Food found human DNA in two percent of the samples. Two-thirds of the samples with human DNA were vegetarian products.
  • We found evidence of chicken (in 10 samples), beef (in four samples), turkey (in three samples), and lamb (in two samples) in products that were not supposed to contain those ingredients.

The company also found inaccuracies in nutritional labeling, with vegetarian products being the worst offenders. In some cases, vegetarian products exaggerated the amount of protein in the product by as much as 2.5 times.

Not everyone, however, is buying what Clear Food is selling.

Martin Wiedmann, a Cornell University professor and expert on food safety, told CNN Clear Food's results lacked significance. He adds,

This is telling us nothing new about hot dogs. It's a sensationalist marketing ploy by companies designed to sell their services.

Clear Food says it's not on a mission to simply gross you out, it's really on a mission to make people more aware of what they are actually buying and consuming.

To put it into perspective, Americans spend $2.5 billion on hot dogs, another $2.74 billion on dinner sausages and over half a billion on breakfast sausage each year.

On its hot dog page, Clear Food says,

If variety meats, such as livers, kidneys, and hearts are among the ingredients in a hot dog or sausage, the label should state 'with variety meats,' and the particular ingredient should be listed on the package.

It's not all doom and gloom, though.

The company points out some meat producers are exceptionally clean and honest, including Butterball, Hebrew National and McCormick.

Check out all of Clear Food's findings here.

Citations: Report: 10% of vegetarian hot dogs contain meat (CNN)