Hot dogs are America’s number one treat with more than seven billion of them consumed every summer. They hit the streets in the 19th century when they were introduced by the German immigrants. Soon, they were given an iconic status and became a part of many nations’ eating culture.
But when you look at what goes into hot dogs and how they are made, you might be surprised to find out that this much loved food is lurking with health dangers.
Hot Dogs are a Health Hazard
Frankfurters are nutritionally empty processed foods. There is nothing natural about them and the factories produce them in a highly robotized manner at an astonishing rate of 300,000 hot dogs per hour.
Traditionally, hot dogs are made from a mixture of pork, beef and chicken. Leftovers from cutting steaks or pork chops and ‘edible’ slaughter by-products are used. These include fatty tissue, skins, animal feet and heads.
These trimmings are grounded and mixed together into a thick paste. To make the sausages taste good, a plethora of additives is added, including excessive amounts of salt, corn syrup, monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates, and other chemicals (in this regard, read my previous article about the top 10 worst ingredients in food).
Flavorings vary depending on where the hot dogs are sold, as people in different regions have different tastes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) doesn’t require manufacturers to list flavorings on the label, so just about anything goes. Flavorings include the infamous monosodium glutamate (MSG) and carmine – a dye from the shells of small beetles, boiled in ammonia or sodium carbonate.
Hot Dogs can Cause Cancer
Nitrates and nitrites are the next on the list of problematic additives used in hot dogs. In the presence of high heat they combine with amines in processed meat to form nitrosamines.
It’s the nitrosamines that have been linked to cancer – especially colon, bladder, stomach, and pancreas cancer.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, one hot dog a day increases your risk for colorectal cancer by 21%. Even organic hot dogs contain nitrite, sometimes even in higher amounts than the conventional hot dogs.
Processed meats in general have been shown to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 67% in a study by the University of Hawaii.
Hot Dogs can Contain Foreign Objects
Sometimes, foreign objects are also found in your favorite wurst. The following have been recorded: Band-Aids, glass shards, razor blades, metal fragments, maggots, rat legs, and pieces of eyeballs.
The speed of the production allows contaminants to ‘sneak’ into the final product unnoticed, so you can get some nasty surprises.
Hot Dogs Contribute to Childhood Obesity
Hot dogs are listed among the unhealthy foods that contribute to increasing rates of childhood obesity, which is of course linked to a myriad of health problems.
If you think you cannot go without hot dogs, then eat them once in a while and go for brands that:
Contain no nitrates.
Say 100% beef, or 100% chicken, so that you know no by-products have been used.
Contain no MSG, corn syrup, preservatives and additives.
Are sold by small, local farmers that produce them on their farms.
Best of all, avoid processed meats all together. If you eat meat, make sure it comes from grass-fed, organically and humanly raised animals. And don’t forget to eat plenty of fresh vegetables with it.
Also read my article Why You Should Avoid This Meat Substitute.