Quality meat, No fillers. Or maybe just some fillers.
October 24, 2015 10:01 AM   Subscribe

The Hot Dog Report: Everyone makes jokes about chicken lips in their hot dogs but someone finally tested a wide variety of brands to see what they're really made of.

Some key findings:

14.4% of all hot dogs tested were found to have problems.
2/3 of vegetarian hot dogs contained human DNA.
Pork was found in 3% of hot dogs that weren't supposed to have any pork. All Kosher brands were pork free.
posted by LizBoBiz (120 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
HUMAN DNA
posted by poffin boffin at 10:05 AM on October 24, 2015 [54 favorites]


Pretty sure hot dogs are solid "don't ask questions you're not sure you want the answers to" territory.
posted by obfuscation at 10:10 AM on October 24, 2015 [26 favorites]


Sorry, I got snowed by that 2/3 stat too, but it's not quite what I think they meant--on closer reading, it looks like about 2% of all tested products contained human DNA, and of those 2/3 of the human-contaminated products were vegetarian products.

So since they tested 345 samples total, and of those 21 were vegetarian... okay, that means that 324 were meat-inclusive. So if they found 2% total probability of human DNA contamination, that means about 7 samples were contaminated, and probably 5 of them were vegetarian and 2 were meat inclusive. So by my back-of-the envelope calculations, any given meat inclusive product would have had about a 0.6% chance of containing human DNA. Any given vegetarian product has a.... um, 23.8% chance of containing human DNA.

...that was way less reassuring than I was hoping it was going to turn out.
posted by sciatrix at 10:11 AM on October 24, 2015 [90 favorites]


Yeah I was about to say what sciatrix just said. Mixing up 2/3 of vegetarian samples with 2/3 of the hygienic issues were IN the vegetarian samples strikes me as an error on the level of, say, letting human DNA get into vegetarian hotdogs.
posted by Nomiconic at 10:14 AM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Fingernails harbour DNA. The good news is that that means they may yet still have been vegetarian. The bad news is, well, obvious.
posted by kisch mokusch at 10:14 AM on October 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: solid "don't ask questions you're not sure you want the answers to" territory.
posted by hanov3r at 10:15 AM on October 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


Daddy used to say they was made out of lips, peckers and intestines...I didn't think he meant human ones, though.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:15 AM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm going to assume, especially next time I go to Portillo's, that the human DNA is from hair and not from Pete, the old meat-plant guy no one's heard from lately.
posted by zompist at 10:16 AM on October 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


I mean, to be fair, it is really unclearly written. I wasn't kidding about having been really confused as to what exactly they meant by that number. I wish they'd just reported the actual numbers of human DNA contamination, that would have been at LEAST as clickbaity a graphic! Maybe more--you could say, for example, that veggie dogs are 40 times more likely to contain human DNA than meat dogs without misleading anyone.
posted by sciatrix at 10:16 AM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I dunno, the chief scientist seems a bit biased to me.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:17 AM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


(to add onto my previous comment: but I don't really believe in or accept "they're hot dogs - what did you expect?" I totally believe people have every right to expect ingredients labels to be honest, complete, and trustworthy and food products to be hygienic, and manufacturers have a duty to make them so. I'm just not surprised.)
posted by obfuscation at 10:18 AM on October 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


It's really easy to contaminate PCR reactions with human DNA, on account of the technicians being human and thoughtlessly shedding DNA at all times. You can prevent it, of course, but most labs that usually deal with non-human taxa only don't bother to, because it doesn't matter and it's a tremendous hassle and significant expense to do so. Unless this was done in a forensics lab, that would be my guess as to the source of the human DNA in the reactions.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:19 AM on October 24, 2015 [56 favorites]


Like the fact that no one managed to spot the glaring issue here before putting this report out is irony as delicious as the most unhygienic hotdog.
posted by Nomiconic at 10:21 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sure, but what's the probability of this being a Type I error? Is there a reason that human DNA contamination of veggie dog samples might be more likely that contamination of meat samples? Because that does look to me like a hell of a skew.
posted by sciatrix at 10:23 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, if no-one else is gonna step up...

VEGGIE DOGS IS PEOPLE! VEGGIE DOGS IS PEOPLE!
posted by mwhybark at 10:24 AM on October 24, 2015 [26 favorites]


I just want to see the complete list of dogs tested and their scores, not just the "clear" ones. I mean, just how bad are the choices I'm making?
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 10:25 AM on October 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


Unless this was done in a forensics lab, that would be my guess as to the source of the human DNA in the reactions.

This is very true. Unless they did microsatellite marker analysis and matched it to Pete, the missing meat-plant guy, or Steve, the younger one with the missing fingers.

Is there a reason that human DNA contamination of veggie dog samples might be more likely that contamination of meat samples?

Sure. The higher content of mammalian DNA could definitely skew the results.
posted by kisch mokusch at 10:26 AM on October 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


It could be. The sample processing method is probably different. It could also be easier to extract and amplify the sparse human DNA contamination in the absence of tons of animal DNA. Or it could just be due to the substrate (maybe veggie dogs are easier to extract DNA from or something).
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:26 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or, to put it another way; never fully trust any reaction conducted with a general bacterial or fungal primer set, or human primers, unless done in a specialist lab. Because those three things will always be contaminated from the outside unless the entire lab has been designed around preventing it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:31 AM on October 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


So, Hebrew National and Eckrich. I've been living right. Have to try Taverrite's italian sausage though.
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:32 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or maybe all of the veggie dogs were analyzed by the same technician with less-than-ideal lab practices. It's easy to generate hypotheses, not so easy to check them.
posted by jedicus at 10:32 AM on October 24, 2015


C.M.O.T. Dibbler: "SAUSAGES! INNA BUN! ALL NATURAL, 100% PIG!"
Vimes: "Don't you mean pork?"
C.M.O.T. Dibbler: "That's what I said."
posted by endotoxin at 10:33 AM on October 24, 2015 [24 favorites]


If you test with enough sensitivity you're going to find human DNA contaminating any food manufactured by human beings.

I want to know whose hot dog tastes the best. Also natural casings please.
posted by Nelson at 10:33 AM on October 24, 2015


"We Answer to a Higher Authority" has to be one of the best slogans out there.
posted by Bromius at 10:34 AM on October 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah I do wish they would have clarified the DNA thing. Are we talking skin cells or fingers? I don't know much about how this would work but can you determine how much DNA is there or just that it is present?
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:36 AM on October 24, 2015


LizBoBiz: Yeah I do wish they would have clarified the DNA thing. Are we talking skin cells or fingers? I don't know much about how this would work but can you determine how much DNA is there or just that it is present?

You can certainly determine quantity, and I bet they were even using the right method. qPCR would be both the easiest and most obvious way of doing this sort of test, and it's quantitative.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:39 AM on October 24, 2015


> Are we talking skin cells or fingers?

At best .
posted by AGameOfMoans at 10:39 AM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


It could be that veggie dogs require more processing/human intervention and thus more chance for hairs to fall into the mix.

Or it could be that the guy who processed the tests on the veggie dogs was more careless than the guy who processed the tests on the meat dogs.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:40 AM on October 24, 2015


I guess Thomas Edison was right...to what precise degree, it's still hard to say.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:43 AM on October 24, 2015


Note that, regardless of the problems surrounding whether the detected DNA was contamination or not, the sausages would have to be produced in an equally clean, forensic lab-like environment for there not to be some level of human contamination. We shed skin and hair all the time.
posted by kisch mokusch at 10:49 AM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yes, the fact that so many of the hot dogs did not have contamination means that they must have decided on a threshold that would ignore results that showed contamination from shedding skin/hair.
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:56 AM on October 24, 2015


Obligatory Christopher Walken link.
posted by lagomorphius at 11:03 AM on October 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


You can also see that the statistics are listed in the most deceptive but headline grabbing way possible. I have to say, after seeing this study, I wouldn't trust this lab at all. For example, they say "2/3 of the human DNA samples are in vegetarian products". So, you think "2/3s! That's a big number! Vegetarian hot dogs are people!" But really, 2% of their sample set is 6-7 total positives, and of those, 2/3 were vegetarian. That's only 4 samples in their sample set! And, when you consider that every test has a false positive rate, and laboratory contamination exists, etc. particularly when human DNA is concerned, what are the odds that this represents an actual concern and not just a pointless callout for squicking people out?

And they talk about both human DNA and 'hygeinic issues' separately when they're clearly referring to results from the same assay.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:11 AM on October 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh, and apparently they used next generation sequencing technology, not qPCR. Which is great in that it can find non-target organisms, but is bad in that it is susceptible to signal swamping (an extremely common sequence can 'drown out' other targets). Which seems like just the sort of thing that would happen if you did a mass sequencing of hot dogs from animals and were looking for a sparse human contaminant. However, vegetarian hot dogs might not be affected - either because the processing destroys or fragments the plant DNA present or because you were using animal-targeted primers, since you were trying to identify animal contamination of the product.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:15 AM on October 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Today I found out that there are technically vegetarians alive right now who are CANNIBALS and I will be DAMNED ETERNALLY if I'm gonna let you take this away from me ok
posted by poffin boffin at 11:24 AM on October 24, 2015 [33 favorites]


YES

CANNIBALS
posted by poffin boffin at 11:25 AM on October 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


The Trader Joes Soy Chorizo would be greatly improved if the casing was made from human flesh.
posted by peeedro at 11:26 AM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


A quick google reveals that extracting DNA from plants presents unique problems that are still not properly resolved. So I think they significantly boosted the human DNA signal in the vegetarian products relative to their meat ones.
posted by kisch mokusch at 11:30 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait, so vegetarian hot dogs means they are made from vegetarians?
posted by meinvt at 11:30 AM on October 24, 2015 [14 favorites]


> Today I found out that there are technically vegetarians alive right now who are CANNIBALS

Take a moment to think about the actual cannibals who switched to vegetarianism. Can you imagine how hard it is to find a soy substitute for human flesh?
posted by Sunburnt at 11:31 AM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's a bit of a derail, but would have thought the environmentalist ideals underpinning the decision for many people to go vegetarian would allow for cannibalism.
posted by kisch mokusch at 11:33 AM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


So I think they significantly boosted the human DNA signal in the vegetarian products relative to their meat ones.

Or veggie stuff is more often made on production lines involving people where meat products are made on all-machine production lines?
posted by pracowity at 11:34 AM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


or the veggie stuff is MADE OF PEOPLE

delicious people
posted by poffin boffin at 11:35 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like honestly if someone was like "well actually gardein chicken tenders are made of people" I would be like fine, whatever, as long as those tasty motherfuckers are still 9g of protein per serving.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:37 AM on October 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


Or veggie stuff is more often made on production lines involving people where meat products are made on all-machine production lines?

Yes. And/or that. Is there any evidence that vegetarian hot dog production involves significantly more time with people? Because there is evidently 30 years of documentation on how plant tannins and other compounds hinder DNA extraction.

Your theory is quite testable. One just have to sample the product at various stages of production. But since the "signal" here is most likely coming from contamination and not actual human DNA in the product, I would posit that my theory is more likely.
posted by kisch mokusch at 11:52 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


At least the human DNA came from vegetarians.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:08 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Perhaps the source vegetation were Triffids?
posted by Chitownfats at 12:20 PM on October 24, 2015


Reading this made me really suspicious and question the organization's motives. Like it would be one thing if Consumer Reports hired a lab to do testing, but this group's reason for existence is dependent on people being horrified at revelations about their food. They are selling anxiety to people.

Like they are trying to present themselves like a union of concerned scientists, but scientists start with the data whereas these guys seem to start with a conclusion ("you should be worried about your food") and fit data to it.

Add to that zero qualification about how much substitution they're actually talking about and no details about methodology and of course no explaination of any kind. Like are we talking 1% substitution, which indicates intent, or .1% which indicates equipment cleaning issues, or .01% which is trace/margin of error? (I made that up, but this kind of interpretation is what is useful.)

This kind of "data" is worse than not having any at all. Unless you enjoy nebulous anxiety I guess.
posted by danny the boy at 12:23 PM on October 24, 2015 [25 favorites]


Why won't they give me information about Nathan's hotdogs? Nathan's are the best hot dogs.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:24 PM on October 24, 2015


This is why I only eat the dogs recommended in my paleo diet cookbook.
posted by Postroad at 12:24 PM on October 24, 2015


The human DNA are hairs. Hair gets in your food. Everybody calm down.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:26 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a bit of a derail, but would have thought the environmentalist ideals underpinning the decision for many people to go vegetarian would allow for cannibalism.

Well, consenting adults, and like that.
posted by mwhybark at 12:31 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why won't they give me information about Nathan's hotdogs? Nathan's are the best hot dogs.

It turned out that those were actually Nathan Hot Dogs. They omitted the -'s quietly, years ago, and nobody noticed.
posted by clockzero at 12:36 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Are we talking skin cells or fingers?

What do you mean "or"?
posted by Namlit at 12:38 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I feel stupid, but is there a report that just lists "name of product- problems we found"? As a vegetarian I am deeply interested in which products they tested that had meat ingredients, not just knowing that "Trader Joe's soyrizo got a 97" which could mean "it had a bit of chicken...but since the nutritional stats matched the package, it was otherwise good."
posted by holyrood at 12:42 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyone ever see the movie Prime Cut with Lee Marvin?
posted by sfts2 at 12:43 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Have I seen 'Prime Cut'? HAVE I SEEN 'PRIME CUT'?

(I have, and those who haven't are bad and should feel bad.)

Anyhow, proposed new post title: "Full of more junk than a sausage..."
posted by mr. digits at 1:04 PM on October 24, 2015


It would be interesting to see the "Clear Scores" for all the various hot dogs cross-referenced with a comprehensive taste test. I wonder if there's an inverse correlation?
posted by fairmettle at 1:10 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


WHAT ABOUT ZWEIGLES AHHHHHH
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:11 PM on October 24, 2015


I like that they give an "overall number of unexpected ingredients". I was gonna say that a product's nutritional labeling should include "unexpected ingredients", because otherwise how can you tell if you're getting your recommended daily allowance of Unexpected Ingredients? But then I thought, no... if you live in the US... your diet is probably not deficient in Unexpected Ingredients.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 1:25 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not normally big on brand loyalty. But the first time I had Vienna beef franks, I felt like every time I'd been served another hot dog brand in my entire life, I was being personally insulted. They could have been serving Vienna, after all, but for some unfathomable reason chose not to do so. I'm pretty sure nothing could make me buy another brand again.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:25 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


"We Answer to a Higher Authority" has to be one of the best slogans out there.

Original version: "Every hotdog was passed by a rabbi".
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:38 PM on October 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


Ok, it seems there are some reasonable alternative explanations for finding human DNA in the veggie-dogs (sample contamination, differential base-rate DNA "noise" in the meat-a-tarian vs. vegetarian items, perhaps more human intervention - leading to hair/skin-cells - in the production of veggie-dogs, and/or just plain random error).

But why the heck are they finding non-human MEAT in the veggie-dogs?

For some reason, this worries me (being vegan-ish) more than the human DNA stuff.
posted by Halo in reverse at 1:43 PM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Or maybe all of the veggie dogs were analyzed by the same technician with less-than-ideal lab practices.

GOD remember that thing like 6 years ago when Interpol thought there was a mysterious eastern european female assassin at large because the same woman's DNA kept coming up at dozens of what seemed to be totally unrelated crime scenes across the continent and then it turned out that actually quality control at the romanian q-tip factory was just a little lax

that was the best
posted by poffin boffin at 1:47 PM on October 24, 2015 [42 favorites]


But why the heck are they finding non-human MEAT in the veggie-dogs?

For some reason, this worries me (being vegan-ish) more than the human DNA stuff.


It should. You can't explain non-human contamination in the same way that we've been explaining the human contamination. Well, possibly pet DNA (e.g. from cat hair). But chicken and pork? Not so much.
posted by kisch mokusch at 1:55 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Veggie wieners ground and stuffed on the same line as meat products. This is why labels proclaiming "produced in peanut free facility" are a thing.
posted by Mitheral at 2:01 PM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


To me, the biggest revelation here is that people eat hotdogs. I just don't get it. I haven't eaten them since the days when adults chose my food for me (clearly favoring ease of preparation and unlikelihood of kid revolt over everything else).
posted by mantecol at 2:04 PM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


How much meat is allowed in "vegan" food? How much human meat is allowed in "vegan" food?
posted by pracowity at 2:07 PM on October 24, 2015


Can they at least tell us if the humans were ethically raised?
posted by mittens at 2:12 PM on October 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


Well, at least now we know where Jimmy Hoffa's body went.
posted by mondo dentro at 2:15 PM on October 24, 2015


>Can they at least tell us if the humans were ethically raised?

You mean the ones making the hot dogs? I'm gonna go with 'no'...
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:21 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why all the snark? I've been wanting this kind of study for ages. I have a lot of allergies, including to chicken, and after the rare but unpleasant reactions I've had to "pork" and "beef" hot dogs, I came to my own conclusions about occasional non-on-the-label ingredients. Every time I go shopping, I think about how great it would be if I could just pass a sample of that great-looking foodstuff through a handy in-my-pocket high-throughput DNA sequencer.

With the exception of portability, this study is exactly the kind of thing I had been waiting for. Kudos to them!
posted by brambleboy at 2:33 PM on October 24, 2015


Every time I go shopping, I think about how great it would be if I could just pass a sample of that great-looking foodstuff through a handy in-my-pocket high-throughput DNA sequencer.

Actually, the next generation of DNA sequencers (nanopore-based) can be as small as a flash drive. You still need bottles of reagents and things, and you need to lyse the cells in the sample. But the near-future dream is that you'd be able to do exactly that. Or, perhaps it might be out of the price range of consumers, but not of customs agents or grocery stores.
posted by vogon_poet at 2:44 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


With the exception of portability, this study is exactly the kind of thing I had been waiting for. Kudos to them!

But it doesn't tell you which brands have chicken.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:55 PM on October 24, 2015


(my favourite comment re: mystery DNA thing)
posted by poffin boffin at 3:14 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


You're not allergic to chicken DNA. You're allergic to chicken proteins. No DNA sequencer is ever going to tell you whether or not you're safe. Even if you take the "where there's smoke there's fire" approach and avoid the chicken DNA-containing foods, the sensitivity of these technologies doesn't even come close to your ability to detect trace amounts of the protein. There will be too many false negatives. Damn expensive, too. If you willing to sample the product directly as you're proposing, you might as well do it with a 0.01c toothpick and then perform your own skin-prick test. You should be able to get an answer in less than 5 minutes at a fraction of the cost!

You still need bottles of reagents and things, and you need to lyse the cells in the sample.
And don't forget you're want to strip out all of the uninformative sequences (unless the only thing you want to count is rRNA), so you'll want a centrifuge handy...
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:23 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


For anyone interested in this kind of thing, I highly suggest reading Upton Sinclair's The Jungle [Project Gutenberg Download].
“It was all so very businesslike that one watched it fascinated. It was pork-making by machinery, pork-making by applied mathematics. And yet somehow the most matter-of-fact person could not help thinking of the hogs; they were so innocent, they came so very trustingly; and they were so very human in their protests - and so perfectly within their rights! They had done nothing to deserve it; and it was adding insult to injury, as the thing was done here, swinging them up in this cold-blooded, impersonal way, without pretence at apology, without the homage of a tear.”
It's not an easy read but its very informative and fascinating.
posted by Fizz at 3:35 PM on October 24, 2015


Or, perhaps it might be out of the price range of consumers, but not of customs agents or grocery stores.

Call me a cynic, but I find it hard to believe that grocery stores are going to care enough to do this kind of testing...
posted by primethyme at 3:49 PM on October 24, 2015


Specifically, all samples are considered within a statistical score-error range. We first test food products for DNA using Clear Labs' proprietary next-generation genomic sequencing workflow. . . We compare labeled value versus observed values and create a statistical methodology for deducting points based on meaningful deviations from claims. . . We compare molecular results of these tests against industry standards, and we deduct points based on a rigorous statistical algorithm.
Glad to hear they've got a rigorous statistical algorithm. That sure puts my concerns to rest.

The ratio of words to actual information regarding the methods they're using in the appendix invites skepticism. This does not smell like science.
posted by eotvos at 4:05 PM on October 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


I used to live on a very diverse street where we would have an annual block party. The police would let us shut down the road and have a neighborhood feast in the road. We had Hindus, Muslims, Jews, vegetarians, and average white dude carnivores.

I always volunteered to be grillmaster, you bring the meat and I'll cook it to perfection. To make sure everybody was comfortable with dietary accommodations, I quartered off the grill: one quadrant was no pork, one was no beef, one was no meat, and one was for everything else. Which was completely necessary, because there were a lot of kids, there were a lot of hotdogs. Some were kosher, some were no beef, and some were veggie. But, yeah, everybody brings hotdogs to a cookout and not every hotdog is created equally.
posted by peeedro at 4:21 PM on October 24, 2015


You're not allergic to chicken DNA. You're allergic to chicken proteins.

True enough. In my case though, trace amounts aren't the problem, so my concerns are when a company makes a substitution of ingredients (in which case cells & DNA will be there) or when both meats are processed in the same machines (in which case cross contamination of cells will be significant). I'm pretty comfortable with using the presence of DNA as an indicator of food I definitely want to stay away from.

What I would like more information about from Clear Food is exactly how much they detect. For example, when they say they found "pork substitution in 3% of samples", I assume they can back that up with a substantial counts of porcine DNA sequences that is not really subject to statistical error, whereas when they say they "found human DNA in 2% of the samples" I assume they are talking about trace amounts where the statistical and procedural issues are more of a concern. I would like to see them publish a database of quantitative results with error bars, of course, because how much chicken DNA they find in a sample would be important to me. Can't find that on their web site yet.

But I am hopeful that this approach can be improved, made more quantitative, and documented better. Kudos to them for starting. I don't like prick tests much, and also, by the way, skin tests are notoriously unreliable for food allergies.
posted by brambleboy at 4:30 PM on October 24, 2015


To me, the biggest revelation here is that people eat hotdogs. I just don't get it. I haven't eaten them since the days when adults chose my food for me (clearly favoring ease of preparation and unlikelihood of kid revolt over everything else).

Weak burn brah. I'm healthier and in better shape than 95% of Americans and had a delicious grilled chili dog today. Take it in...
posted by aydeejones at 4:43 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


It was ostensibly all beef but introduce chili into the mix and maybe five or six DNA sources become evident
posted by aydeejones at 4:44 PM on October 24, 2015


The revulsion over hot dogs is much ahistorical hand wringing. I still remember the "lips and assholes" line from The Great Outdoors and Dan Aykroyd's character finding them revolting. I was like ten and realized they're probably not all that bad for you (in moderation) if kids eat them. Later I learned it was nitrites that you have to keep to a minimum.

If one finds them repulsive one must also reject all sausages and any beef that did not come from primal cuts. Good luck, heh heh
posted by aydeejones at 4:47 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


But what about artisinal sausages?
posted by chapps at 4:53 PM on October 24, 2015




When I hear about human DNA in veggie hotdogs...I think of white humans with dreadlocks.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:18 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here to say Prime Cut is an awesome movie. Seriously, go watch it already.

And to ask - why do parents of my son's friends always think he should eat hot dogs? We don't eat smooth meat, real or fake, so there is always an awkward moment when given a chien chaud where my son will remove the wiener and eat the bun.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:47 PM on October 24, 2015


They only list the high scores. I want to know about the worst of the wurst.
posted by w0mbat at 6:13 PM on October 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Can you imagine how hard it is to find a soy substitute for human flesh?

Sigh... Tell me about it - it's been nearly 10-years since HuFu (my preferred soy-based human flesh substitute online retailer) closed it's doors, I've had to resort to "other" means to satisfy my cravings... mainly vegetarian hotdogs... oops...
posted by jkaczor at 6:19 PM on October 24, 2015


We don't eat smooth meat, real or fake [...]

What's "smooth meat"? Google didn't help me. Do you mean, like, processed meat products, or is it a term for certain sorts of meat or meat coming from particular sources?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:27 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


It is also possible that some of the results, especially human DNA are just cross contamination at the lab.
posted by humanfont at 6:29 PM on October 24, 2015


What's "smooth meat"?

I hear your question and second it. Are smooth and tender synonymous? Does this mean that the tenderloin is for me?
posted by mr. digits at 6:32 PM on October 24, 2015


Smooth meat is what some people, at least those within my circle of weirdos, refer to when we talk about hot dog meat. Meat which is homogeneous, often pink, heavily processed and smooth in texture rather than "chunky". Imagine meat made into a smoothie then put into a casing. Smooth and tender are unrelated and I suggest we share that tenderloin.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:36 PM on October 24, 2015




So Soylent Green started out as a vegetarian brand, then later evolved to contain vegetarians?
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:12 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Where are the full results? Why are only the top performers posted? I want to know where the problems are located and exactly which brands were tested.
posted by dzkalman at 7:14 PM on October 24, 2015


Smooth meat is a technical term. A hotdog is smoth meat: homogeneous in mix. An Italian sausage, where there are clear delineations between the fat and the chuck and herbs is not.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:15 PM on October 24, 2015


smooth meat sounds like something you'd want to google with safesearch on tbh.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:17 PM on October 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I want to know about Nathan's Hot Dogs, too. I did some research on ingredients earlier in the summer, and Nathan's came out as easy to find and a brand that doesn't use anuses and nerve material in their products.

I may just have to swear off these things. Knowledge overwhelms taste.
posted by bryon at 7:27 PM on October 24, 2015


Poffin Boffin: The text results are fine, but don't go to images.
posted by bryon at 7:29 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sure, but who's going to explain the presence of these frankfurter slices in my organic canned human DNA porridge?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:40 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sunburnt: "> Today I found out that there are technically vegetarians alive right now who are CANNIBALS

Take a moment to think about the actual cannibals who switched to vegetarianism. Can you imagine how hard it is to find a soy substitute for human flesh?
"

Yeah, since BIG NON-CANNIBAL blocked this.
posted by Samizdata at 9:48 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here is my attitude as a vegetarian. I'm not gonna eat animals. Humans, if you sneak into my Tofurky, I'm going to assume this is somehow your fault not mine and just go ahead and eat you.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:47 PM on October 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am really obsessive when it comes to food, but nothing has ever been able to scare me off hot dogs, not even watching How It's Made videos about them (which always makes me laugh for the panning shots of the plate of hot dogs at the beginning).
posted by teponaztli at 1:44 AM on October 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Although that video is kind of horrifying.
posted by teponaztli at 1:48 AM on October 25, 2015


how it's made - hot dogs.

Did someone say horrifying?
posted by mcrandello at 1:49 AM on October 25, 2015


"That's the dark nature of capitalism!"
posted by teponaztli at 1:57 AM on October 25, 2015


High shock value dialog from that one aside, it's remarkable how little the process has changed in the last 50-60 years or so, right down to those black stripes on the temporary casing. It seems they've sped the machines up quite a bit and removed a few people from production line with some new equipment, and that's about it.
posted by mcrandello at 1:59 AM on October 25, 2015


humanfont: "It is also possible that some of the results, especially human DNA are just cross contamination at the lab."

That's probably why a good 2/3 of the thread has been discussion of that point.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:21 AM on October 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dirtyoldtown has all the correct Chicago answers.

It has to be Vienna Beef, the bun has to be MaryAnn poppy seed, the dog has to have everything on it but ketchup.

As a Chicagoan the first thing I did was desperately scan this list for a report on Vienna Beef with my fingers crossed. It would have to have human fingers and puppy tails in it for me to change brands
posted by C.A.S. at 9:48 AM on October 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Take a moment to think about the actual cannibals who switched to vegetarianism. Can you imagine how hard it is to find a soy substitute for human flesh?

I've always thought that fake meat manufacturers showed a disappointing lack of imagination. I mean, it's fake, so why call it "chicken" or "beef" when the sky's the limit?

If I were in charge you would be able to select from a wide array of "meats," like aardvark, rhinoceros, polar bear, dragon, unicorn, toddler chunks, tauntaun, Australopithecus, hadrosaur, and so on.
posted by univac at 2:34 PM on October 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


The smooth meat thing, honestly, the word you're looking for is emulsified meat, and it's actually a pretty impressive feat of cooking. It's the suspension of meat, fat, and water (the amounts of which are carefully proscribed by government food regulations) in a single, uniform mix.

The "eww, hot dogs" bugs the hell out of me, if only because a hot dog, or sausage, or bratwurst, or whathaveyou is not all that distinct from pate du campagne, or a fancy terrine that people will fall all over themselves to praise. As for the lips and assholes thing, yes, there was a time where that was verifyably true, just look back to Upton Sinclair. However, that was at a time when the quality and safety of essentially the entire food supply, meat, vegetables, everything, was unregulated, and consumers were at the mercy of companies not required to list ingredients and not forced to maintain safety and cleanliness. It's a sign of how effective regulations are that so many of these companies are scoring so high in a country that has chronic issues with listeria, salmonella, and E. coli.

The idea that sausages are gross, that if it didn't come from a primal cut, it must be garbage is a sign of waste. Sausage, and preparations of meat using non-prime cuts are an amazing part of our food history, to deny them their place is to ignore the fact that that extra bit of protein that was saved and used was often the difference between survival and death. To wave dismissively and declare that none of them are fit for consumption is kind of gross, to be honest.

And yes, full disclosure, I make hand-made sausages for a living. It's been a fascinating, and on-going process of learning about history, shared culture, and most importantly, meat, where it comes from, how it's treated, and the steps I must carry out to make safe and enjoyable food for my customers. If you're squicked out by buying meat from a large company (never mind that the processing line your imagining is probably dwarfed by the systems that GFS and similar restaurant supply chains sell to your favorite restaurants), then put your money where your mouth is, find a local sausage maker (they *are* out there, the art of charcuterie is in a full blown renaissance at the moment) and buy from them.

Better yet, take a class. Learn how to make your own sausage. Get involved, personally, with what ends up on your plate. And maybe don't causally dismiss a food item that has existed in nearly every world cuisine for generations if not millennia.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:06 PM on October 25, 2015 [17 favorites]


They tested 75 brands but only reported results on the 53 (by my quick count) that scored above an arbitrary 95%. I'm more interested in the lower scoring brands, to be honest. Less discussion and more raw data/methodology would be great. I was pleased that most of the hot dog brands I buy did well, though.
posted by TedW at 6:04 PM on October 25, 2015


To create the score, each item is molecularly analyzed through our proprietary DNA sequencing workflow. We screen for major, medium, and minor substitution, and we deduct points accordingly. We then examine products for nutrition-content accuracy, such as carbs, fat, calories, and protein. All Clear Score calculations are run through a secondary-analysis pipeline, scrubbed for statistical accuracy and error, and delivered to consumers via ClearFood.com.

This paragraph makes them sound like the food science counterpart to SEOs. It would be interesting to learn a little bit more about the folks doing this.
posted by TedW at 6:09 PM on October 25, 2015


TedW: "They tested 75 brands but only reported results on the 53 (by my quick count) that scored above an arbitrary 95%. I'm more interested in the lower scoring brands, to be honest. Less discussion and more raw data/methodology would be great. I was pleased that most of the hot dog brands I buy did well, though."

Yeah, same here. You need to give the bad with the good. Although, with the site being named ClearFood, you kind of expect this.
posted by Samizdata at 8:43 PM on October 25, 2015


"It would be interesting to learn a little bit more about the folks doing this."
Here is their about page

The whole thing just reeks of an elaborate -omics based shake-down scam, where the company's plan to generate revenue seems to ostensibly be focused on getting major food brands to pay them to come in the tent and piss out rather than stand outside the tent and piss in. They are conspicuously incapable of actually generating real meaningful data for consumers or companies, but seem really good at manufacturing anxiety in consumers with big words and fancy seeming techniques.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:27 AM on October 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Huh, the descriptions of their technique in this WIRED article seem to be totally different from whats on their website
posted by Blasdelb at 7:31 AM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


So what's the verdict? Is it a crap site full of misinformation?
posted by pracowity at 6:20 AM on October 27, 2015


Its at best impossible to know based on what they're sharing, and they don't seem to be planning on making money by performing a public service.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:50 PM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


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