This food quality startup ruined Thanksgiving by analyzing turkey products

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There are many ways for tech companies to ruin Thanksgiving dinner. Facebook could send a push notification to all your relatives to remind them about petty arguments had over the last year. Apple could release a novelty ringtone no-one but your creepy uncle will enjoy. Someone might ask you to explain Snapchat.

Or they could just analyze the brands of turkey available in grocery stores. What better to celebrate a holiday marked by the copious amounts of bearded avians that make their way onto dinner tables around the country than with a report detailing all the contaminants, substitutions, and lies associated with the birds?

Clear Labs went ahead and did just that. A little more than a month after the company released its first food report, which analyzed hot dogs and found that a greater than zero percentage were problematic in some way, the company has used its food analytics tools to examine the turkeys that will be served Thursday.

Lingering questions about the veracity of the hot dog report aside, the turkey report contains some damning information about the not-so-little gobblers on which many of us will gorge this week. Clear Labs said 7 percent of the turkey products it tested contained other meats; 5.5 percent had human DNA; and a total of 13.5 percent of the 158 turkey products it tested were “problematic.”

These issues led Clear Labs to recommend several brands of turkey products, from the “Safeway Frozen Young Turkey” to the Jennie-O turkey burgers, as well as naming the best retailers from which people can buy non-problematic turkey. (Those retailers are, perhaps unsurprisingly, Target, Walmart, and Safeway.) Of course, for all the procrastinating amateur chefs out there, Clear Labs might have saved them from purchasing a turkey from a less reputable brand. One person’s ruined holiday is another person’s last-minute stomach saver.

Here’s how I explained Clear Labs’ food reports in an earlier piece:

For each report Clear Labs needs to buy foods, catalog them, run it through a series of tests, then analyze the results against its own database and several public domain databases it uses to inform its findings. When all this is done the company will assign different brands a Clear Score ranging from zero to 100, which is supposed to indicate the accuracy of the brand’s labeling in terms of ingredients, nutrients, and other information.

At the time, Clear Labs debuted on Kickstarter to support more food reports. It was seeking $100,000 for 10 reports that cost roughly $10,000 a piece to create. That campaign was unsuccessful: The company raised roughly $86,900 via the campaign, and because it was held on Kickstarter, it won’t get any of that money.

Clear Labs isn’t the only company scrutinizing Thanksgiving. Google also published a report on what people are searching for before the holiday. Most want to know about Thanksgiving’s past or who’s playing on that day. Others look for stuffing recipes, and or how to cook a delicious bird.

That said, if you share Clear Labs report with your family you can have the benefit of grossing them out before they Google it on their own. And you know what that means: Not having to share* the remaining turkey. You’re welcome.

*OK, maybe there’s two ways Clear Labs is making your Thanksgiving better.

1 Comment

exhibit44

The implication is that we’ve been eating that mix for years already, and we’re not dead. That is the reason you use good food safety practice and cook everything well. And of course, still, the food menace most likely to shorten your life is excess calories and fat.

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