The Shocking Ingredient You May Not Realize Is In Hot Dogs

If there's one food that is synonymous with barbeques and summer fun, it's the hot dog. After all, the best place to get a hot dog has to be a vendor in New York City on a hot day or at a baseball game, right? A staple of the ballpark and backyard grills, these frankfurters have classically been enjoyed dressed in mustard, relish, and onions, while others simply enjoy them nestled between a classic bun.

But just how much do you know about the hot dog itself? If you were to ask anyone on the street, you'd probably get an answer that a hot dog is made up of a combination of pork and beef. While that is what hot dog labels say, America's most beloved wiener has been subject to some revolting controversy.

For example, TIME compiled a wide variety of disgusting things found within hot dogs, ranging from strands of grease-soaked hair to metal staples to a U.S. dime. Meanwhile, Mercy for Animals details the process of how a hot dog is made, including the addition of animal parts like tongues and hearts and when a "meat batter" of liquified trimmings and corn syrup is pumped into casings, which are often animal intestines. Naturally, the all-American hot dog has some critics who view it in a rather disgusting light.

Aside from alleged cow tongues and pink slime, there is one ingredient that was supposedly found in hot dogs that may cast a rather disturbing shadow on what else goes into your franks.

A report found human DNA in hot dogs

Let's say that you're enjoying a hot dog fresh off the grill. Doesn't it taste a bit familiar? According to a 2015 study performed by Clear Labs (via CNBC), the hot dogs you buy at the supermarket may contain more than just beef and pork.

After analyzing 345 hot dog samples from a total of 75 brands, Clear Labs discovered that nearly 14.4% of the tested samples had some rather shocking ingredients not listed on the package. Vegetarian and kosher products were discovered to contain traces of pork or have "hygienic issues." But most disturbing of all was the discovery that "human DNA" was discovered in "2% of all samples and 66% of the vegetarian products."

Before you worry that you've become Hannibal Lecter during your Memorial Day barbeque, The New York Times wants you to know that you haven't unknowingly consumed any human meat. The "human DNA," the Times explains, could merely be the "tiniest particles of hair, nails, and skin." Snopes went so far as to call the report "false," claiming Clear Labs "didn't appear to be an established laboratory presenting vetted data."

If you're still willing to enjoy a hot dog after this, you may want to read up on other myths and false facts that people believe about hot dogs to learn even more about this summer staple.