Barbeque season is fast approaching for those of us north of the equator. However, according to a recent report, you might want to take it easy on the beef burgers, and even veggie burgers, unless youre a fan of rat and other unwantedingredients.
U.S.-based food analytics companyClear Labshas carried out anindependentreportthat analyzed 258 samples of burgers from over 100 different retailers and fast food chains over the past two years. This included ground meat, frozen patties, fast food burgers, and veggie burgers.
In total, nearly 14 percent of the samples had hygiene issues, pathogenic contamination, or wrongly labeled ingredients.
The biggest problem in the studywas the incorrectlylistedingredients. Contrary to what was listed, the analysis found beef in fivesamples it was not supposed to be in, chicken in foursamples, turkey in threesamples, pork in twosamples, rye in twosamples, and a Jerusalem artichoke in oneproduct. They even managed to find a black bean burger that didnt contain any black beans.
While this raises many issues for people on certain diets, for either health or cultural reasons, the study pointed out that this was a strong alarm bell that there are serious gaps in the supply chain for many brands. Essentially, we have no idea whats going into our food and nobody can be held accountable.
Eleven of the products, more than4 percent, contained pathogenic DNA, including bacteriaand viruses that can causegastroenteritis, influenza-like symptoms, or even tuberculosis-like symptoms. While cooking a burger can get rid of most harmful germs, the researchers were concerned bythe fact that four of these pathogen-containing products were vegetarian burgers widely considered a lower-risk food category.
Thats not all. One of the samples contained human DNA, which theresearchers say most likely came from a hair, skin, or fingernail somewhere along the manufacturing process. They also found rat DNA in three samples, one of which was a vegetarian burger. The study added that its unlikely either of these DNA traces could be harmful to your health, but theysaid rather obviously that finding rat DNAusually suggests a poor quality of food. It’s probably not the tastiest of things, either.
Perhaps surprisingly, the vegetarian patties actually fared worse than the meat products. While 13.6 percent of all the samples were flagged up as showing “some form of discrepancy between product and label,” this rose to23.6 percent for the vegetarian ones. Two of the vegetarian burgers evencontained meat.
The study did not point out any particular brand or restaurant. However, they concluded by saying they hope their research and insights could help brands to evaluate and improve their own supply chain.
Main image credit:Ryan Schultz/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0).
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