Before picking up hot dogs on your next grocery trip, consider this report. Clear Foods, a new company that “uses genomic technology to analyze the world’s foods at a molecular level, ingredient by ingredient,” has conducted a survey of 75 different brands of hot dogs. The results are troubling, particularly for vegetarians and non-pork eaters.
Clear Foods analyzed 345 dogs and sausages and found 14.4 percent to be “problematic.”
Specifically, the company found multiple instances of “substitutions and hygienic issues.” Substitutions refer to ingredients that are not noted on the label, while ‘hygienic issues’ refers to contaminants like small amounts of human skin cells.
Clear Foods encountered a range of different types of substitution, such as “an absence of ingredients advertised…and meat in some vegetarian products.” The hygienic issues mainly affected vegetarian samples, where two-thirds of the dogs tested came back positive for human DNA.
The report found chicken, beef, turkey, and lamb in products that did not list these ingredients on the packaging. Even more troubling for people who cannot consume pork for religious reasons or otherwise, Clear Foods saw pork substitution in three percent of the samples examined. The biggest culprits were chicken and turkey sausages.
While you might assume these issues were worse in lower price products, Clear Foods found that pork substitution in particular was common “across the price spectrum being sold at a wide variety of retailers.” In the data analysis component of the report, researchers from Clear Foods remarked that “our biggest insight when analyzing the data was that there was no correlation between price and Clear Score.”
Of the brands that ranked highest in terms of hygiene and quality were Butterball, McCormick, and Hebrew National.
That vegetarian sausages suffered the worst level of hygienic and substitution violations especially surprised the team, considering that many Americans avoid meat for ethical, dietary, and religious reasons.
The highest ranked retailer of the ten that Clear Foods used for the survey was Target, with Walmart and Safeway close behind. In terms of taste and variety, Clear Foods gave Oscar Mayer Premium Jumbo Beef Franks the ‘Best Hot Dog’ designation.