More and more people are turning to home genetic testing kits to gather information about their ethnicity, personal family history and health.
Direct to consumer genealogy tests are growing in popularityespecially in the United States in recent years.
One such DNA testing service on the market today is from CRI Genetics. Below, we’ve outlined the company’s methods, products, and customer reviews.
CRI stands for Cellular Research Institute and has been selling DNA test kits directly to consumers since 2016.
CRI Genetics is known for its ability to make complex DNA science easy to understand with tools and features that help contextualize personal genetic information. For example, CRI Genetics offers animations showing ancestral migrations and provides stories from different regions.
CRI Genetics’ products focus on four main areas: ancestry, health, allergies and weight loss.
CRI Genetics claims to be 99.9% accurate. Its proprietary DNA algorithm uses hundreds of thousands of genetic markers to analyze ancestry. Although its CLIA-validated test methods produce ethnic results, the accuracy of these results cannot be warranted.
CLIA, which stands for
What affects the accuracy of genetic testing?
The accuracy of an estimate of ethnicity ultimately depends on the reference population: people from a particular region whose DNA shares a specific signature.
The larger the benchmark panel, the more people it can compare your results with.
Although the size of CRI Genetics’ reference panel is unclear, it is most likely smaller than some of its more established competitors who have been collecting reference material for longer.
Additionally, a cheek swab – the type of data collection method provided in the CRI Genetics kit – is only reliable when the sample is collected correctly.
Home self-sampling increases the risk of sample contamination and common errors in sample collection.
Can I make health decisions based on these tests?
You probably shouldn’t. The health side of the business has drawn some skepticism from the scientific community.
There is a lack of clinical evidence showing that genetic testing can actually determine aspects of your health, such as nutrition and weight loss, that CRI Genetics tries to report on.
CRI Genetics is best for people who are just curious about genetic information.
Because it is not a clinical grade DNA test, CRI Genetics is not intended for use by hospitals or healthcare professionals.
Instead, this “recreational” DNA test is for people looking to find out what their DNA can tell them about their ancestry.
People looking for a clinical-grade test could try a company like Color.
The basic steps to using CRI Genetics can be broken down as follows:
- Order your test online. You can choose between five different test options, depending on the type of results you are looking for.
- Collect and send your DNA sample. Collect your DNA sample via a buccal swab. Instructions on how to collect the sample are included in the kit. Once complete, use the prepaid envelope to send your sample to the CRI Genetics lab.
- Explore your results. When the results are ready, you will receive an email inviting you to log in to the online portal.
While not without a few satisfied customers, a generally negative set of customer reviews highlights CRI Genetics’ weaknesses regarding the breadth of its referral panel and the transparency of its pricing model.
With just 1.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon, customers generally report dissatisfaction with the accuracy of the test, a lack of detailed information, and an overly aggressive sales strategy.
However, customers satisfied with the service said the reports were comprehensive and interesting. On the Better Business Bureau website, CRI Genetics has a B rating and is an accredited member of the BBB.
On the BBB website, there are over 600 complaints against CRI Genetics for a variety of customer grievances, including misleading advertising, inaccurate results, and hidden charges.
CRI Genetics offers products in four main categories: Ancestry, Health, Allergies, and Weight Loss.
Ancestry + Traits
The CRI Genetics Ancestry+Traits DNA test looks for over 600,000 markers in the genome using both an autosomal test, which reveals more recent ancestry, and maternal and paternal lines called a haplogroup test.
Your results will include a percentage breakdown of your ethnicity, an ancestral timeline, the haplogroup you belong to, a list of famous people, and information providing historical context about the ancestors.
It will also include a basic traits report, which explains how genetics can affect hand-eye coordination, hair loss, food cravings, and more.
Note that the reliability of DNA ancestry test results may be limited by the size of CRI Genetics’ reference panel.
Ancestry + Health
This includes everything included in the Ancestry + Traits package, plus over 120 reports related to traits, health and wellness, nutrition, allergies, metabolism, and weight loss.
For example, clients will receive reports suggesting how their genetic makeup may dictate their response to caffeine and alcohol, or which vitamins may be best for them.
Although the health suggestions made here are not harmful, the scientific community recommends that they be considered suggestions only.
This is because there is no clinical evidence to support the claims made in these health reports, and no changes in your medications should be made without first consulting your doctor.
Compare other home DNA test kits
Allergy + Health
This package includes the full menu of Allergy, Health, and Weight Loss Reports, minus the Ancestry Reports.
Customers will receive reports specifically related to their DNA-based allergen sensitivity. They will also receive a personalized weight loss profile and reports on traits, health and wellness, nutrition, and metabolism.
Note that claims about genetically related allergies are not supported by scientific evidence. In reality,
Compare other home allergy test kits.
This package focuses on reports related to weight and weight loss. It will include a personalized weight loss profile, which will suggest a weight loss plan tailored to your DNA, and nutrition and metabolism reports.
Note that scientific research shows that DNA is not a reliable indicator of food response. For example, a
Weight Loss + Health
This package includes Weight Loss Reports and all other health reports available from CRI Genetics, including Allergies, Health & Wellness, and Traits.
As stated above, consumers should be aware that there is no clinical evidence that DNA can accurately show the aspects of your health that CRI Genetics claims to report in this package.
Here is a comparison of core ancestry products from four of CRI Genetics’ main competitors:
23andMe is another recreational genomics company offering ethnic results in addition to health information.
23andMe has a DNA database of 5 million records from which data can be analyzed, reports on more distinct regions and is considered to have a more accurate test than CRI Genetics. It is also cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while CRI Genetics’ health test is not.
However, CRI Genetics does offer some special features not seen with 23andMe, such as a “Famous People” section that shows people you might be related to, an interactive map showing regions where your ancestors may have originated, and a timeline of when these ancestors entered your family tree.
CRI Genetics also offers an 8 week guarantee which is not offered by 23andMe – if you don’t get your results back within 8 weeks you will be refunded.
Is CRI Genetics a legit company?
CRI Genetics is a private company with a methodology validated by CLIA and created by scientists and genetic researchers.
CRI Genetics’ tests are not clinical grade or FDA cleared.
Does CRI genetics show Native American ancestry?
There is Native American DNA in the reference panel used by CRI Genetics.
However, history and DNA science make it difficult to determine a specific Native American tribe. This is partly because each tribe has its own set of laws dictating who can claim native citizenship.
How long does CRI Genetics take?
According to CRI Genetics, it will take 5 days for your kit to arrive in the mail from the day you order it. Once the DNA sample is received, it will take approximately 8 weeks to get your results.
Are my data secure?
According to CRI Genetics, the data is secured by stripping all identifying information as soon as the sample arrives at the lab and then it is encrypted.
You are allowed to upload your DNA data and you can ask the company to delete or destroy it.
CRI Genetics has an SSL encryption certificate for the security of its site.
CRI Genetics is a solid and relatively affordable option for people interested in the recreational side of genetics.
But people who want clinical-grade health results or the accuracy of a more established benchmark panel may want to investigate larger competitors.