Monday, October 26, 2015

Meatless Monday, Hot Dog Edition

Hot dogs, though quintessentially American, are like most things regarded as such--the result of the influence of immigrants. In this case, Germans, who brought their sausages on a bun to our shores in the post-Civil War era. No one is really sure how these frankfurters and wieners became "hot dogs"; some claim the term was coined by cartoonist "Tad" Dorgan in 1900. However, "dog" has been used as a synonym for sausage since 1884 and accusations that sausage makers used actual dog meat date to at least 1845. In the early 20th century, consumption of dog meat in Germany was common, as it has been all over the world throughout human history.

Lately, though, eating man's best friend, at least literally, is falling out of fashion, even in Asia, where it is still, horribly, part of their traditional cuisine.

Here in the US, we long ago accepted that while we may not know exactly what hot dogs are made of, they at least weren't made from Fido. A new study by Clear Food, a consumer guide to food based on DNA analysis, confirms this, and that may be considered as the "glass half full" part of their report.
Of the 345 hot dogs and sausages Clear Food analyzed for this report, 14.4% were problematic in some way. Problems included substitutions and hygienic issues. Substitution occurs when ingredients are added that do not show up on the label. Hygienic issues occur when some sort of non-harmful contaminant is introduced to the hot dog, in most cases, human DNA. Here's what we found: 
•Substitution: We encountered a surprising number of substitutions or unexpected ingredients. We found evidence of meats not found on labels, an absence of ingredients advertised on labels, and meat in some vegetarian products.
•Hygienic issues: Clear Food found human DNA in 2% of the samples, and in 2/3rds of the vegetarian samples.
Yes, human DNA, even in the veggie dogs. Now I read through the rest of this article and it's never speculated upon what precisely the source of that human DNA could be. Are we talking fingers and toes here? Spit? Something worse?  Even though it's only present in 2% of the samples, my curiousity is piqued.

If you follow the above link, it will show a nicely laid-out article with easy to follow graphics (so awesome!), and it doesn't just damn your darkness, either, but lights a candle in that it lists the brands of hot dogs that did the best in their tests.

However, their assessments only determined the DNA content of hot dogs, not the wisdom of eating them or any other processed meat in the first place. Unfortunately, eating hot dogs, ham and other processed meat can raise one's risk of colorectal cancer, according to a recent study by the International Agency for Cancer Research, a division of the World Health Organization.
“Red and processed meat are among 940 agents reviewed by IARC and found to pose some level of theoretical ‘hazard,'" institute spokeswoman Betsy Booren said. "Only one substance, a chemical in yoga pants, has been declared by IARC not to cause cancer."
Moral: eating hot dogs and processed meats is more dangerous than eating … yoga pants?!

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