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Hot Dogs Need Warning Labels – Does Spinach? From the Archives

August 8, 2014

The headlines are increasing as the Cancer Project, a worthy sounding organization, filed suit on behalf of three people charging that hot dogs need warning labels. Filed on “hot dog day” and for $2700 in “damages” they’re suing Nathan’s Famous, Kraft Foods/Oscar Meyer, Sara Lee, ConAgra and Marathon Enterprises for “failing to warn consumers” of dangers from eating hot dogs. The tie in – the danger allegedly is colon cancer and while all processed meats are mentioned hot dogs were a target ‘because they’re popular’ according to one news report.

The Cancer Project claims one 50 gram serving increases risk of cancer by an average of 21% and asserts “there is absolutely no amount of processed meat that’s safe to eat.” They cite 58 studies that link processed meats to cancer. Of course there are studies on almost every issue and many that conflict.

The Cancer Project is an offshoot of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – doctors who have the same information on their site. They claim “had consumers been informed of the preence of known and probable carcinogens in their processed meat products, many, if not most, consumers would have chosen to avoid the increased risk of cancer by choosing more healthful food.” This is not what consumers are saying in response to the lawsuit. cites a Tuscon comment of “You mean hot dogs will kill me? So will everything else. Last I heard we all die. The key is moderation and exercise.”

So who are these organizations? The PCRM had already ads asserting hot dogs are bad, despite having a reported 5% doctors as members – misleading at best. Two thirds of the PCRM budget is from a founder of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida with over $1 million in donations coming from PeTA. Yes – People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, connected to PCRM, connected to the Cancer Project suing amid allegations to eat no meat.

The American Institute for Cancer Research, which analized the studies, says in the Chicago Tribute “1 hot dog daily for several years would increase the average risk of getting colorectal cancer, which ic 5.8% to 7%.” This, on contrary is a 1.2% increase.

The basis of the concern for health is fat, salt and sodium nitrate and nitrite. Salt has been used as a food preservative for centuries, preventing food spoilage. Sodium nitrate is a naturally occuring minderal present in many vegetables from carrots to spinach. Anything that grows from the soil draws sodium nitrate from the soil – so the sole change of avoiding hot dogs and eating more vegetables does not decrease sodium nitrate consumption!

Nitrites are also natural – formed the minute you put the food in your mouth. Avoiding sodium nitrite increases the chances of food poisoning Sodium nitrite prevents the growth of Clostridium Botulism! Furthermore researchers with the National Academy of Sciences, American Cancer Society and National Research council agree there is no additional cancer risk from sodium nitrites.

A Swedish study showed that nitrates increase the body’s production of nitric oxide which relaxes blood vessels, which increases health in fighting high blood pressure. Nitrates in vegetables are said to protect against gastric ulcers, citing spinach, lettuce, beets and radishes as the highest in nitrates. “Nitrates in Food Have long been erroneously lined to an increased risk of cancer” according to Joel Petersson on a spinach site.

Still others link nitrogen fertilizer use to increased nitrates in vegetables and factor in plant age, time of harvest and many other factors.

The lawsuit appears little more than a bogus attempt to harass food companies and set a precedent, figuring $2700 isn’t worth the legal fees to fight so the major companies involved will settle. Moderation, exercise, lack of stress/fear from worrying on every little thing goes much further towards a healthy life.


  • Sodium nitrates – the “bad” things in hot dogs – are also in vegetables.
  • The legal and ad wrangling is seen by some consumers as “fear mongering.”
  • Many consumers disagree with the lawsuit, including vegetarians and vegans.

Did you know hot dog USDA regulations are easily found online at and include balogna.



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