Thursday, October 29, 2015

What’s for supper on Saturday? Frankensteins and Beans

Even before Otto von Bismarck mentioned it, it was always best not to see how sausages, and their subgenre, the hot dog, are made. Talk about the ultimate mystery meat…

But Clear Food (the online zine of
Clear Labs) went ahead and looked anyway.

Well, “looked” isn’t exactly the right word. They went ahead and did genomic testing on 345 hot dogs and sausages, and found that 2% of them had human DNA in them. Okay, that’s only seven humanoid hot dogs, but if you’re the one who thought you were biting into a tasty dog and learned that you were really taking a bite out of Aunt Mabel…

Anyway, when I ran this bit of news through my mind my first thought was that someone was messing around in the labs and adding an eye dropper of human to Porky Pig and Elsie the Cow to come up with some hybrid humanimal. Bwahaha.

But the more I thought about it, the more it seems likely that that human DNA – which is categorized as a “non-harmful contaminant” – was from a bit of skin, hair, or fingernail. Or, I suppose, if someone were having a really bad day at work, some spit. Not exactly what you want to sup on, but a far cry from finding out that your donkey snacks are contaminated with fox meat. (This was a Wal-Mart food crisis a couple of years ago. Just because you don’t like spiced donkey…)

This on top of the WHO report that connected processed meat like hot dogs consumption to colo-rectal cancer. Not a good day for the meat industry – and red meat to the vegetarians out there.

Not that vegetarians are safe. Some of the hot dogs that contained human DNA were labeled as vegetarian. And Clear Food also found that 10% of the vegetarian hot dogs contained some traces of non-human meat.

Snopes – my go-to for ‘can this possibly be true’ stories - did a wait-just-a-durn-minute on this story, mostly pushing at the fact that Clear Labs/Clear Food hasn’t revealed much about how they actually did the testing, and sort of implying that it was more or less a PR campaign to help kickstart a Kickstarter campaign for Clear Food.

Clear Labs, itself, has substantial venture backing. The Kickstarter effort is more or less a chump change initiative that will spread interest in and awareness of Clear Labs. They certainly appear to be a legit enough outfit, with the requisite genius PhD-types flying around. I suspect that they’re plenty capable of fulfilling their mission to bring “
clinical-grade genomic analysis and the best tools in big data to the food industry.”

Me? I want to know what’s in a Twinkie, in candy corn, in Peeps.

And next time I’m at Fenway Park – which will likely be the next time I have a hot dog – I’d like to know whether I’ll be having a Donner Party experience or not.

Not that I’d be that grossed out by human DNA in my dog. After all, with enough mustard and relish slathered on it, who needs the meat. And I’d still rather have an adulterated hot dog than spiced donkey, with or without any fox in it.

Some of the info in this post came from an article in USA Today, which was pointed out to me by my omnivore friend Valerie. Thanks, V!


valerie said...

.... because it tastes like chicken ....

Rick T. said...

During a guided walk in the woods last weekend led by a mushroom expert, she said that 'shrooms are categorized as "detritivores" which help recycle waste and dead material.

All those years, when I thought I was just one more person eating leftovers, I was actually being a detritivore. I feel more distinguished; I see now that there is a noble purpose for my existence.

With all those fingernail clippings and what not in hot dogs, one doesn't even have to wait for them to be leftovers to join me, mushrooms, and many others in this illustrious category.