Americans eat nearly 50 billion hamburgers a year, but a recent report by a food research company has some burger lovers cringing.
In both meat and vegetarian patties, Clear Labs found some additional ingredients that may turn the stomachs of the hardiest eaters, according to “The Hamburger Report,” a molecular study of a beloved American food.
Researchers also pointed out the conspicuous absence of other ingredients — like beans missing from a vegetarian black bean burger.
“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.
Here are more of the findings:
- 6% of meat burgers were identified as problematic with substitution, hygienic issues and pathogenic contamination
- One sample tested positive for human DNA
- Three samples tested positive for rat DNA
- 46% of samples contained more calories than reported on labels or in menus
- 49% of samples contained more carbohydrates than reported
- 6% of vegetarian burgers were identified as problematic with substitution, hygienic issues, and pathogenic contamination
- In one black bean burger, there were no black beans
- In two cases, meat was found in vegetarian products
The lab results come from 258 samples of ground meat, frozen patties, fast-food burger products and veggie burger products from 79 brands and 22 retailers.
Clear Labs used next-generation genomic sequencing (NGS) and other third party tests to screen the samples for authenticity, major, medium and minor substitution, contamination, gluten, toxigenic fungi and toxic plants, other allergens and missing ingredients. They also examined the products for nutrition content accuracy, such as calories, carbs, fat and protein.
Clear Labs says it wants 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.”
You can read the full report from Clear Labs here.