Snopes: Report on hot dogs and human DNA is fishy

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A report that some hot dogs contain human DNA set the Internet on fire Monday.  But now it turns out, that may not be true.

The organization Clear Foods published it report that said “14.4 percent of the hot dogs and sausages tested were problematic.”  It was data they said was taken from analysis of 345 hot dogs and sausages from 75 different brands.

The story was reported by many national and international media outlets like CNN, The Boston Globe, The Daily Mail and yes, WGN News.

But Snopes, the website that debunks rumors, says not so fast.

Missing from the bevy of articles about human DNA in hot dogs (and meat in veggie dogs) was any explanation about how Clear Food determined those percentages, under which conditions testing occurred, whether any independent entities confirmed or duplicated the claims, and the methodology by which Clear Food arrived at their overall conclusions. Information on the site and Clear Food’s Kickstarter provided no information about their testing methods, the credibility of their research, or (most important) what the company’s specific objective might be. The flurry of interest bore many similarities to an earlier report claiming California wine was contaminated with arsenic, peddled by a company that tested alcoholic beverages for “purity.” Clear Food similarly touted its “Clear Score,” aimed “to reward the brands with the highest average scores” based on criteria known only by Clear Food.

Snopes also said, “Prior to the appearance of the “hot dog study,” Clear Food was a relative unknown entity on social media. “

Additionally, Snopes reports:

Clear Food didn’t define the terms that they used to describe their findings, such as “genomic analysis technology” (unspecified) or “proprietary next-generation genomic sequencing workflow.” Certain brands were deemed “problematic” at a rate of 14.4 percent, but again, no evidence was presented to substantiate that claim or establish the methodology as worthy of consideration. In short, while the results could bear out to some degree should testing be conducted in a scientific setting, Clear Food didn’t appear to be an established laboratory presenting vetted data.

Snopes has ruled the report to be “unproven.”

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