Canadian Burgers All Beef, U of G Researchers Find

February 11, 2013 - News Release

University of Guelph researchers have used advanced DNA testing to examine Canadian hamburger meat and found reassurance for hungry Canadians: all of the burgers tested were entirely beef.

Following reports from Europe of horsemeat in hamburger patties and frozen lasagna, the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding at the U of G-based Biodiversity Institute of Ontario (BIO) tested 15 sources of Canadian hamburger meat, six cooked and nine frozen.

The researchers used DNA barcoding, a molecular technique developed by U of G integrative biology professor Paul Hebert. It allows scientists to match small DNA sequences from unknown specimens to those derived from expert-identified reference specimens. The BIO's research has been covered by The research has been covered by media outlets across the world, including the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Global News, and the Canadian Press.

The BIO has examined a number of products over the years, including hundreds of samples of seafood, and found multiple problems with mislabelling. But burger-eating Canadians can rest easy.

Six cooked hamburgers were tested for DNA from horsemeat and other sources: A&W Mama Burger, Burger King’s Whopper, Dairy Queen’s FlameThrower, Harvey’s Original, McDonald’s Big Mac and Wendy’s Bacon Double Cheeseburger. All six were 100-per-cent beef, with no secondary DNA sources detected.

Uncooked, frozen hamburger patties were tested, including Beef Steakettes (Schneiders), Lick’s Homeburgers, M&M Meat Shops Supreme Homestyle Beef Burgers, No Name Beef Burgers (Loblaws), Outlaw Beef Burgers (Schneiders), President's Choice Thick and Juicy Beef Burgers, and Webers Beef Burgers. Fresh lean ground beef in a tube (Better Beef - Cargill) and Food Basics fresh lean ground beef were also tested. All nine were 100-per-cent beef, with no other DNA sources.

“This testing is something all Canadians should be proud of – knowing the hamburger meat they are buying is beef with no substitutes detected or additions,” said Hebert, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Biodiversity and director of the BIO.

Hebert and Dirk Steinke, the BIO’s director of education and outreach, say DNA barcoding can be used more frequently in examining products.

“It is likely that, as Canadian consumers hear reports from other countries, they will start to question the products they are purchasing,” said Steinke. “DNA barcoding is something that can give shoppers confidence they are getting what they are paying for, and reassures retailers on what they are getting from their suppliers.”

The team also tested a kangaroo burger from the University of Guelph's Brass Taps campus restaurant, and found the meat to be pure kangaroo.

For more information:
Dirk Steinke
Director, Education and Outreach, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario
519-824-4120 x. 53759

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or

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