South African Experts Pretty Sure Human DNA Is in Meat Products

Staff Writer
For fairly benign reasons, human DNA will probably be in burger patties, experts say

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

In the wake of the recent horsemeat scandal throughout Europe, a South African Parliament portfolio committee met Tuesday to discuss food labeling and meat products in their jurisdiction. The result? A not-too surprising conclusion that human DNA is probably in meat products.

"Workers are often cutting themselves. If we had done DNA tests, we probably would have found traces of human DNA in the products," Stellenbosch University professor of meat sciences Louw Hoffman said, Business Day reports.

Of course, just because workers are cutting themselves and DNA can be found doesn't mean human meat is actually mixed in with meat products. "It is possible that (if tested) we could find traces of human DNA in meat. However, even if we do find human DNA, it does not mean we are eating human flesh," Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries deputy director-general Botlhe Modisane said. Please remember that DNA also comes in the form of saliva, hair, and fingernails (ever watch a detective show?).

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Perhaps this might quell some meat eaters' fears abroad, as finding horse DNA in meat products might not mean actually finding horsemeat in a pork sausage. And while one professor says she found DNA traces of four different animals in one beef sausage during the meeting, some DNA instances might be more of a case of cross-contamination than actual food fraud.