What’s in Your Burger? Just Rat and Human DNA, According to One Study

By Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
May 11, 2016 Updated: May 12, 2016

Before you take another bite of your delicious cheeseburger or veggie burger, you may want to know that it may contain some unsavory ingredients.

Clear Labs, an American company that intends to “index the world’s food supply and set worldwide standards for food integrity,” has found some startling particles in our burgers

Out of 258 burgers tested—from 79 brands and 22 retailers—three burgers contained rat DNA, two vegetarian products contained meat, and one was found to have human DNA.

“Hair, skin, or fingernail that was accidentally mixed in during the manufacturing process” is most likely the cause of the human DNA detected. 

The study, released May 2016, notes that “while unpleasant, the presence of human DNA or rat DNA is not likely to be harmful for human health.”

“What many consumers don’t know is that some amounts of human and rat DNA may fall within an acceptable regulatory range,” continued the report. “The amounts we detected in our research most likely fell within the acceptable regulatory range as we understand them.”

Yet, the report found some “worrisome” inaccuracies in nutritional labels. 46 percent of the samples contained more calories than that was reported.

Fast food menus were particularly inaccurate: 38 of the 47 fast food samples tested had more calories than reported on menus.

(Clear Labs)
(Clear Labs)

Additionally, vegetarian products seemed to be especially troublesome: “Based on our results, we found issues in food safety, product quality, and end-product consistency to be pervasive among vegetarian samples.”

Of the 89 vegetarian products sampled, 23.6% were problematic. That’s 10 percent above the rate for the total 258 samples, which was 13.6 percent.

Clear labs also found that 4.3 percent of the products tested—around 11 burgers out of 258—contained pathogenic DNA. The most common type of pathogen was Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, which can cause Far East scarlet-like fever in humans. 

Clear Labs employed “next-generation genomic sequencing (NGS) and other third party tests” to compile the report. The company was started in 2014 by “the best scientists, genomicists and data science experts” in the United States.

Overall, the Clear Labs concluded that “the most consistent area for improvement is consistency itself.”

Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca