According to a new study, some beef products – including even those labeled as 100% beef –are found to contain substituted ingredients or even contaminants from rats or humans.
“While unpleasant, the presence of human DNA or rat DNA is not likely to be harmful for human health,” the study notes.
While people are more and more conscious of their food choices and the impact their diet has on their bodies and the world around them, many of them are unaware of the common practices and safety regulations of the factories that manufacture and package some of the foods we eat almost every day.
A study, conducted by the US-based food testing company Clear Labs, were testing samples from 258 burgers – including ground beef, frozen patties, fast-food and veggie burgers. According to their discovery, they found two cases of meat in vegetarian products, three cases of rat DNA and one case of human DNA.
We would like to think that our food has had never coming into contact with bacteria, animals or human DNA, the reality of the industry is quite the opposite.
“The most likely cause is hair, skin, or fingernail that was accidentally mixed in during the manufacturing process,” said Clear Labs, referring to the human DNA finding. “What many consumers don’t know is that some amounts of human and rat DNA may fall within an acceptable regulatory range.”
Contamination is expected by food regulatory authorities, and it simply cannot be avoided, and is not harmful to humans. “It is economically impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects.”-FDA Defects Level Handbook
Clear Labs had expected to find very low levels of contaminants in the products tested for the study.
“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,” according to ClearLabs.
The study was created to provide a comprehensive overview of the burger industry. Many of the tested products had ingredients substitutes, and in some cases, missing completely was also found.
Of all 258 burgers which were tested – taken from 79 brands and 22 retailer – the vegetarian products revealed the most alarming results. According to the report, 23.6% of vegetarian products showed some form of discrepancy between product and label, compared to the 13.6% of all samples.
In fact, advertised ingredients were missing from as many as 15% of the products tested – one black bean burger was found to contain no trace of black beans. In addition, some of the meat products were also found to have substituted ingredients. A total of 16 meat products – or 16.6 percent of all samples – including beef, chicken and pork, were found to have similar substitutions.
As it was expected, the study also discovered that many of the product’s nutritional content was inaccurate, with almost half of the products containing more than what was advertised on their nutrition facts label – around 40 additional calories per serving on average. This is going to be problematic for consumers wishing to know accurate nutritional values and ingredients – whether it be for allergies or religious reasons – for the products.
“Considering that FDA labeling requirements make it mandatory for most fast food restaurants to publish nutritional information on fast food menus, these discrepancies are potentially worrisome for customers who make decisions about what to order based on calorie counts and other available nutritional information.” -says ClearLabs.