California-based Clear Labs has detected a number of offensive additions in burger products like rat DNA and human hair. The lab conducted tests that analysed 258 samples of ground meat, frozen patties, fast-food burger products and veggie burger products from 79 brands and 22 retailers.
Clear Labs uses high-tech testing to screen food, to check if it actually contained the ingredients listed on the packs. The tests check for substituted ingredients, contamination, gluten, toxic fungi and plants, other allergens and missing ingredients. The company also tests food for the amount of nutrients as per claims on packaging.
The company's ''Hamburger Report'' makes for rather disturbing reading for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Of the 258 samples-meat was found in vegetarian products in two instances.
No black beans were found in a black bean burger that was tested.
The analysis found rat DNA in three cases and human DNA in one case. The DNA findings may be unpleasant, but are not considered harmful.
According to the report, 23.6 per cent of vegetarian products showed some form of discrepancy between the label and actual product.
According to Clear Labs, it identified problems with substitution, hygiene issues and pathogenic contamination in 13.6 per cent of the 258 burger products it analysed.
''Vegetarian products may not be perceived as a traditional food safety risk, but our findings suggest that vegetarian products are problematic from both a safety and quality perspective,'' stated the report.
However both the report and outside experts say that there is probably nothing to worry about.
The most relevant of all the issues detected had to do with the nutrition that consumer were getting from burgers. Forty-six per cent of the samples were found to have more calories than advertised, with an average of 39.6 more calories per serving.
''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,'' the report stated.