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About three years ago, Orig3n Inc., a small genetic testing company in Boston, discovered a big problem with its DNA analysis, according to two former managers, a former lab technician, and another former employee. Its various tests ($29 to $298) are supposed to help you figure out which kinds of food, exercise, and beauty products are right for your particular genetic profile. They’re even supposed to identify your “superhero traits,” meaning whether you’re genetically predisposed toward, say, intelligence or strength. The problem was that its test results were prone to errors. A person taking the same test twice could get radically different results.

Rather than try to solve the underlying problem, Orig3n’s coders came up with a quick fix, according to the former workers. The separate nutrition and fitness tests, for example, analyzed some of the same genes. The former workers say that if two Orig3n analyses of a particular gene didn’t match, software plugged in the earlier result. A spreadsheet viewed by Bloomberg Businessweek shows 407 such errors that, according to the former lab tech, were logged over three... see more