It’s been a big week for hot dogs, and it’s only Tuesday.
On Sunday evening, news broke about a report from startup Clear Food on the cleanliness of the hot dog industry. This is their first report, and if the response is any indication, the company is poised to do well.
What Clear Food offers is analysis on the molecular level to determine what food products actually contain. It is amazing that this is truly necessary in 2015, and yet, the Hot Dog Report proves that, yes, it very much is. In other words — you can’t trust food companies to tell you what’s in your food, we have to go to the DNA!
The report found, among other things, that 10% of vegetarian hot dogs — meatless options for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet — actually contain meat! Yikes!
As a vegan this is shocking, and I was disappointed that the report did not list the offending brands. They do, however, note the cleanest brands. For meatless, it’s Gardein, Trader Joe’s products and Yves Veggie Cuisine.
For meat hot dogs the report wasn’t much more promising. Kosher hot dogs containing pork, other animals in products they shouldn’t be in, and hygiene issues across the board, including human DNA. It turns out what we all expected was true is indeed true — hot dogs are gross.
Speaking of what we already knew…
Meat Causes Cancer (gasp!)
On Monday, the news that caught the attention of most Americans was that, contaminated or not, their meat-based hot dogs cause cancer.
A report from the World Health Organization listed processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen and red meat as a Group 2A carcinogen.
Put another way, processed meats cause cancer, and red meat probably causes cancer. Processed meats include bacon, sausages, sliced ham, pepperoni, Slim Jims, etc. Red meat is mammal meat — cows, pigs, sheep, lamb, etc.
This isn’t actually new news — other organizations have listed these foods as carcinogenic for years. In fact I remember as a kid hearing on the news that processed meat was linked to colon cancer. As a twelve year-old I debated if I should give up my beloved Oscar Meyer bologna. I did not, but I did cut back. It took another 9 years before I swore off all meat.
Are They As Bad As Cigarettes?
This was the question on many people’s minds.
“So my bacon causes cancer and my burger likely causes cancer; to what degree?”
Let’s compare it to cigarettes. Nowadays everyone who isn’t a Philip Morris executive is comfortable with the notion that cigarettes are carcinogenic, so it’s a good comparison.
Well, cigarettes are still worse, make to mistake about it. Cigarettes contribute about 19% of all cancers while processed and red meats contribute 3% of all cancers (SOURCE).
So the bacon sandwich is still better than a cigarette. But it is humorous how many people rushed to the defense of their beloved processed and red meats by arguing this point.
They are not as harmful as cigarettes but how comforting is that, really?
Handguns aren’t as dangerous as semi-automatic weapons, but is this really important when one is pointed at your face?
I did a video a few months back comparing the story of tobacco to meat (check it out if you haven’t: Is Meat The New Tobacco?). In that video I pointed out that just 28% of smokers get lung cancer.
Does that mean you should smoke? Your odds are actually in your favor that you won’t get lung cancer from smoking. But you know where your odds are even better? Not smoking to begin with! In fact that is decidedly the healthy choice in this scenario.
So will everyone who eats bacon develop colon cancer?
Obviously not. But make no mistake about it, you are raising the chances.
Just as you can still legally smoke, you can still legally chow down on meat. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
I am interested to see what’s next for hot dogs this week! For now stick to the veggie dogs from trusted brands with no risk of containing animal flesh!