Organic Hot Dog Labels Mislead Consumers

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Photo: rob_rob_2001

Just in time for the Fourth of July, let's take a closer look at hot dogs. Are they dangerous? What about organic and natural products? Recently The New York Times examined some misleading hot dog labels. Consumers are especially concerned with avoiding nitrates and nitrites because of their link to cancer but it turns out confusing labeling could be giving us a false sense of security.Nitrates and nitrites are used in the processing of meat to provide the color and taste we've all grown accustomed to in our dogs. They're also used to kill bacteria and prevent botulism. Conventional hot dogs use sodium nitrite, the synthetic version of the additive, while natural and organic versions use celery powder or celery juice to preserve their product. But in fact both have healthy doses of nitrate, according to The New York Times.

The New York Times reports:

A study published earlier this year in The Journal of Food Protection found that natural hot dogs had anywhere from one-half to 10 times the amount of nitrite that conventional hot dogs contained. Natural bacon had from about a third as much nitrite as a conventional brand to more than twice as much.

Current labeling standards require products that use the non-synthetic source of nitrites and nitrates to say "Uncured" or "No nitrates or nitrites added," when products are cured and nitrites and nitrates are added, just from a natural source. In fact, food manufacturers are pushing for more clear food labeling rather than the USDA, in order to clear the confusion with consumers.

Again The New York Times:

Applegate and other natural companies have proposed alternate wording to the U.S.D.A. in the past without success. They say they are confident their products offer enough other benefits -- all natural ingredients, meeting the standards for the humane treatment of animals, for example -- that it is best to be upfront with consumers about the preservatives. Ms. Boardman said tests showed the amount of nitrite and nitrate in Applegate products was similar to conventional brands.

Whether organic or not, processed meats should not be a regular part of your diet. In fact, studies have shown that they endanger your health. This holiday weekend why not consider grilling healthier like this grilled romaine, grilled tomato and eggplant, or Cambodian grilled corn? Tasty eats that are free of dangerous additives. Cheers to that.

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