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Would You Eat an Organic Hot Dog?

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Would You Eat an Organic Hot Dog?

Do you know what’s in a hot dog? More mysterious than crop circles or the Bermuda Triangle–what the heck is in a freaking frank?! And does the “organic” badge make it any better?

Hot dogs have been dodging disparagement for decades–in fact, some food historians suggest that the American term “hot dog” came from the popular belief that dog meat was used in making the sausages. Alas, all of that mystery must hold some allure; Americans consume more than 20 billion weenies annually. That’s 20,000,000,000 franks a year.

Fortunately, the USDA has set federal labeling standards which work to shed some light on the hot dog quandary. Along with a litany of other troublesome ingredients, here’s what may be lurking in a traditional dog.

If the label lists “with byproducts” or “with variety meats,” this means the product consists of more than 15 percent of one or more kinds of raw skeletal muscle meat with raw meat byproducts, such as heart, kidney, or liver.

Meanwhile, “mechanically separated pork” or “mechanically separated chicken or turkey” designates a “paste-like or batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue.” If the meat was produced by advanced meat/bone separation machinery but has a calcium content (from bones, yum, wait, should we be eating bones?) exceeding 150 milligrams (mg) of calcium per 100 grams product, it must be also labeled “mechanically separated.”

And needless to say, the meat that ends up undergoing such a radical makeover for mass-market franks doesn’t come from frolicking-in-the-fields farm animals. (Read my post about Factory Farming here.)

Well alrighty then. Along with those nuggets, or slurry as the case may be, you will be greeted with assorted spices and flavorings, sugar, corn syrup, water, salt, and other ingredients. In addition, a standard hot dog usually includes binders, starter cultures, phosphates, erythorbate, dextrose, refined cornstarch, citric acid, MSG and those naughty, naughty nitrites.

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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6:54AM PST on Jan 27, 2014

Uncured hot dogs have 21% salt content. Does not affect heart health bt cancer risk. Ref:

Ok, may be that's not a problem, how about wheat in organic hotdogs? Wheat is actually unhealthy to o.

Organic Hot Dogs may still contain High Fructose Corn Syrup. Here's some ingredients found in most cured hotdogs and some uncured hotdogs:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (obesity),
- Starch (unnecessary fillers),
- Milk Protein (may be GMO),
- Sodium Nitrate (may not be harmful to heart but is a cancer risk),
- MSG or E621,
- potassium phosphate and sodium triphosphates,
- E452 (polyphosphates; interferes creation & absorption of Vitamin D),
- sodium ascorbate (synthetic form of vitamin C believed to be responsible for babies born with cleft lip, can irritate lungs),
-carmine (red food dye taken from insects).

Kosher Hot Dogs are Not Healthier

Let's Look at Some Organic Hot Dog Brands

1. Trader Joe’s "All Natural Uncured All Beef Hot Dogs" come from cows who could have been exposed to certain herbicides, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or GMO feed.

2. Smart Dogs by Litelife is vegan but not gluten-free.

3. A detailed chart here:

8:14AM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

I didn't know there were such things. Thanks.

2:54PM PST on Feb 2, 2011


8:39AM PST on Dec 24, 2010

Oh my goodness. This is so yuck. Natural or organic veggie dogs for me, please!

4:27PM PST on Dec 11, 2010

I eat organic hot dogs, I love them and couldn't give them up!

8:58AM PST on Nov 12, 2010

I have up regular hotdogs decades ago. When I eat a hot dog it's only organic. Remember that all natural is no better than conventional. For those eating veggie dogs remember they usually have wheat gluten. When I crave the hotdog, I go to the co-op or other natural food store and buy organic un-cured turkey or chicken dogs. The only negative is the cost, usually $5.99 for a package of 8.

9:19PM PST on Nov 8, 2010

Sundogs, mooncats, Morning Star and Smart dogs. Thanks for suggesting these!

11:37PM PST on Nov 7, 2010

Smart dogs are a really good veggie substitute dog; but my meat-lover fiance likes Morning Star hot dogs better, because they taste almost exactly like those red-skinned pork hot links (according to him).

If I do eat meat (like as a last choice at a fast food restaurant) I tend to get a hot dog or coney dog, just because I'm in favor of using up all of the animal, but in no way am I fooling myself that they're healthy. I can't see how an organic dog would be better to eat for -you-, but it'd be better for the earth.

3:58PM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

I buy organic with better ingredients for the few times I do eat a hot dog.

11:00PM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

Alternate arrangements, please!

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Thank you for sharing ! Blessings for everyone. Animals included !

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