Hamburgers are one of America’s favorite foods. There’s hardly a restaurant that doesn’t serve at least one variety of burger. For those who don’t eat meat, veggie burgers are a popular option — all of the delight of a grilled patty in meat-free form.
However, as yummy as your favorite burger can be, buying processed patties or ordering from fast-food joints may bring you some unwanted, and potentially dangerous, additions. The kind of additions you don’t want topping your burger — ever.
Recently, Clear Labs, a genomics testing lab based in California, tested the content of 258 samples of frozen burger patties, ground meats, veggie burgers and fast-food burgers. The samples were obtained from 22 retailers across the state of California and included 79 brands.
On the methods used to test these samples, Clear Labs wrote: “Using next-generation genomic sequencing (NGS) and other third party tests, we screen for authenticity, major, medium, and minor substitution, contamination, gluten, toxigenic fungi and toxic plants, other allergens, and missing ingredients. We also examine products for nutrition content accuracy, such as calories, carbs, fat, and protein. All of our tests are run through a secondary analysis pipeline and scrubbed for statistical accuracy and error.”
After testing was complete, Clear Labs published their results, which they titled The Hamburger Report. The contents of this report may surprise, and disgust, you.
Results of the analysis showed that 14 percent of the analyzed samples had issues with contamination, hygiene or inconsistencies with ingredients. While 14 percent may not seem like that large of a percentage, consider how many burgers Americans consume in a year. If 14 percent of those have issues, chances are you’ve eaten them.
First the hygiene issues. In three of the samples, rat DNA was discovered. In one frozen veggie burger, human DNA was found. These were likely introduced somewhere in processing, and while it may not be harmful, it sure is disgusting. As far as contamination, 4.3 percent of burger samples were found to contain pathogens, including E. coli, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Nearly seven percent of the burger samples tested were found to contain unlisted ingredients, including unlisted meats, rye and Jerusalem artichoke. While this may not be a problem for some, for those with food allergies or intolerances, the presence of an unlisted allergen could spell big trouble. Worryingly, two veggie burgers were found to contain meat.
Speaking of veggie burgers, 15.7 percent of these products were found not to contain all of the ingredients listed on the label. One black bean veggie burger, for example, was found to contain no traces of black beans.
It’s these sorts of inconsistencies and contaminants that shed even more light on why we should avoid processed products altogether. We don’t see how they are made, we don’t control what is in them and what’s listed on the package may not be entirely accurate. To avoid dealing with this uncertainty, you could simply make your own burger patties at home.
If you eat meat, your best choice for burgers would be to get ahold of some organic, grass-fed beef from a local source you trust. You’ll know where your meat came from and how it was treated, and you’ll know it wasn’t pumped full of growth hormones or raised on GMO feeds. Organic, free-range turkey burgers are another good option, or burgers made from fresh venison.
If veggie burgers are your thing, you can easily make your own at home. Try this yummy recipe next time you grill!
All in all, starting from fresh, quality ingredients and making your burgers at home is the best way to ensure that they don’t have unwanted ingredients, like human or rat DNA, for instance.
Tanya is a writer at The Alternative Daily with a passion for meditation, music, poetry, and overall creative and active living. She has a special interest in exploring traditional Eastern remedies and superfoods from around the globe, and enjoys spending time immersed in nature.