If you think of quintessentially American food, nothing screams “American pastime” quite like a juicy cheeseburger. According to statistics, Americans eat almost 50 billion burgers per year, breaking down to an average of 4.3 times each month.
But new and disturbing research might give us a reason to cut back on our burger obsession. Earlier this month, the food company Clear Labs released a report titled, “The Hamburger Report.” In this report, the researchers found multiple instances where burgers tested positive for rat DNA. And in one sample, the researchers even found that the burger meat tested positive for human DNA.
If this information isn’t disturbing enough, the researchers also looked at vegetarian burgers and found that many don’t even contain the main ingredients they claim to. For example, researchers found that one sample of vegetarian burgers labeled “black bean burgers,” didn’t contain a single black bean. What’s worse, meat was found in vegetarian products on more than one occasion.
The lab results from The Hamburger Report came from 258 samples of ground meat, frozen burger patties, fast food items and veggie burgers from 22 retailers and 79 brands.
“This report provides new insights into the burger product industry to give suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers a representative overview of the supply chain at large and provides insights based on an objective molecular analysis into how we can strengthen the good and improve the bad,” the company wrote on its website.
The study used next generation genomic sequencing as well as other third party tests in order to screen the samples for contamination, authenticity, gluten, substitution, and other elements.
Clear Labs also says that it hopes to “help the food industry future-proof their supply chains, reduce the risk of costly recalls, and generally improve qualities of safety and quality by calling out all observable trends and insights at the molecular level, regardless of whether or not they are acceptable according to FDA guidelines.”