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The great American hot dog

The Cancer Project's Protect Our Kids TV ad recently started broadcasting in certain US cities. The ad pleads us to "Help Get Processed Meats Out of Our Schools", and warns that cafeteria foods like hot dogs, bologna, and pizza are injurious to the long-term health of American children.

I think we all know that such foods are unhealthy, but I don't think everyone realizes how disgusting hot dogs are until they read the ingredients. The recent AP article New attack ad on TV, but this one targets hot dogs includes the following appetizing facts about hot dogs:
  • "the government does allow them to contain pig snouts and stomachs, cow lips and livers, goat gullets and lamb spleens."
  • "Check the label of a name-brand hot dog, and chances are fat provides around 80 percent of total calories, more than double what's often advised. What's more, saturated fat and trans fat — the fats most strongly linked with artery-clogging — are common ingredients, in some cases providing at least half the fat content."
  • "...eating 50 grams a day of processed meats for several years increases colorectal cancer risk by 21 percent. That equals about one hot dog a day or two deli slices of bologna or five slices of bacon." - Disturbingly, I know plenty of people who eat more than that every day.
According to the FDA (US Food And Drug Administration) and the Text Book of Veterinary Anatomy, the following pork parts are allowed in hot dogs:
  • snout
  • lips
  • tongue
  • windpipe
  • heart
  • spleen
  • stomach
If that doesn't whet your appetite, I don't know what will. And if you think you can find a healthy alternative in turkey or chicken hot dogs, keep in mind that poultry hot dogs usually contain the same ratio of skin and fat as a naturally-occurring turkey or chicken carcass would.

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