Food analytics startup company uses genetic sequencing technology to test hot dog products.

  • The food industry continues to develop new technologies to test for, monitor, and improve product quality and safety.  In some cases, questions about the validity or “fit-for-purpose” nature of specific testing methodologies have sparked debate about the reliance on new technology as a basis for safety concerns, litigation, or enforcement action.  For instance, DNA bar coding made headlines earlier this year when it was used by the New York Attorney General’s office to detect the authenticity of herbal supplements and when published studies indicated its utility in identifying potentially mislabeled meat in the marketplace.
  • A startup testing company claims to have used genomic sequencing technology to detect ingredient substitution, addition, or hygienic issues in a variety of hot dogs sold at retail.  According to its initial report, the company collected 345 hot dog samples across 75 brands sold by 10 retailers.  The report alleges that 14.4% of the samples were “problematic in some way,” including substitution and hygienic issues.  The company also reports that 10% of the “vegetarian” products contained meat and that 2% of the samples contained human DNA.
  • The report concludes with a ranked list of high-scoring brands, a “best of” list, and a series of consumer recommendations.  The food industry likely will need to pay close attention to future developments involving the use of this technology, particularly as it appears poised to generate negative publicity for certain brands on products despite the absence of a clear consensus regarding its validity.