DNA tests can be easily fooled and different tests may draw wildly different conclusions about the supposed heritage of participants. One thing the current rash of these startups have in common, however, is how their saliva testing kits are not supposed to come with spit already included.
That’s exactly what happened to Cedric Mercury and at least four other customers of genomic sequencing tests sold by Dante Labs, CNBC reports. When he went to inspect his testing kit, the instructions were missing, and the sample tube was already filled, sealed inside the included biohazard bag.
Now, I know what you’re thinking—Mmm mmm, free spit for the drinking. Delicious!—but apparently neither these five customers, nor the other five whose used tests were mailed to complete strangers, were especially thrilled. The company tendered refunds and new kits to all ten people involved in the mix-up, and in a blog post blamed the error on the third-party delivery service they’d contracted (though they failed to name the company or disclose if they would continue to employ it.)
The mishandled kits did not include anything that immediately revealed who the spit belonged to, and so, according CEO Andrea Riposati, they do not represent a potential breach of confidential genomic information. Still, tests like these do in general raise serious privacy concerns, and it’s hard to know if other, potentially less scrupulous companies have made gaffes like this one in the past.