They are a mainstay of summers, Major League Baseball games and cookouts. Some may be turned off by them, and for understandable reasons, but there is no denying that Americans love their hot dogs. Whether it be plain, with mustard and/or ketchup, chili, relish or any such combination of those condiments, hot dogs are a relatively simple food to prepare and can be eaten while you are on the go. Thus, they are an ideal treat while you are at the ballpark, hanging out in a backyard with friends or on the go in a big city during a midweek workday.
It is often discussed in news stories about the food item and among those who are particularly health conscious that certain hot dogs are filled with different ingredients that are hardly good for anybody. In fact, it may downright turn you off from ever again eating them once you learn some of the more disgusting things that can be found in a hot dog. Some of those items are not as horrifying as they are questionable in that it may not make a whole lot of sense why they are included in hot dogs. Others, however, probably should never be eaten by your favorite beloved pet let alone by you.
Note: It is always recommended to research any food or drink that you consume, as these items listed in this piece are not found in all hot dogs.
10. Milk Protein
Yes, that’s right. You may be surprised to find out that the hot dog that is on your plate could have milk protein in it. The reason that milk protein is used for hot dogs and similar sausages and frankfurters is that the actual meat that makes up the actual link – more on the meat later – needs something to bind it. Milk protein is one option that can be utilized to get the job done. The milk protein itself is not disgusting for those who have no problems digesting dairy products. That it is required does, however, speak to the gross nature of what can be found in a hot dog.
Food dye is typical in many of the items that we drink and eat on a daily basis, and hot dogs are no different. Cochineal is a typical dye that is associated with hot dogs, and it is one that you may want to shy away from upon learning how it is made. Shells of small beetles are boiled so that the colors on those shells can be extracted. As with a variety of different food items, those with certain allergies may encounter small or even some serious health risks by consuming cochineal. For the rest of you, the thought that it comes from insects could be enough to make cochineal disgusting.
8. Sodium Nitrate
Hot dogs made up of processed meat are similar to other certain deli meats in that they contain sodium nitrate. The thought process behind the use of sodium nitrate is that it is meant to prevent bacterias and other harmful matters. Sounds good, right? Sodium nitrate is also used in the making of hot dogs so that the links do not go gray. Yes, something is required to keep hot dogs from going gray. It is widely recommended by physicians and other health experts to avoid eating items that are filled with sodium nitrate, as consuming such products increases your risks for heart disease.
7. Sodium Erythorbate
Ever experience a rumbling sensation in your stomach after heating multiple hot dogs? Maybe even have a headache after an afternoon picnic? It turns out that sodium erythorbate may be to blame. Along with those health issues, it has been said that sodium erythorbate could also contribute to you one day having to deal with kidney problems and possibly even kidney stones. Anybody who has ever had to pass a kidney stone would probably tell you that no food, not even a hot dog, is worth the pain that comes with that process. Enjoy those hot dogs in moderation; that is if you keep on eating them after reading this piece.
6. Animal Intestines
Something has to be utilized to create the casing for hot dogs and other similar links. It is, in some instances, animal intestines. No worries, however, because the animal intestines that are used for hot dog casings have of course been cleaned and processed. Otherwise, it would just be gross and disgusting, right? People who are turned off by this fact have been known to simply de-case hot dogs and sausages before boiling or grilling the links and when the casing is the easiest to remove. Have you ever felt the inside of a hot dog casing? Just remember that grimy feeling has been resting on the dog for a long time before you cooked it. Yummy!
5. Skeletal Muscle
One of the things that you may have been cautioned about in the past is that hot dog manufacturers will put just about any meat product that they can into those links during processing. While that may not be completely true, it is, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, accurate that skeletal muscle could be part of the last hot dog that you ate. Meat is meat, some would say, but there is something even about the terminology “skeletal muscle” that turns the stomach. When is the last time that you saw “skeletal muscle” sold on its own at your local store? Yeah, didn’t think so.
4. Pig Snouts
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is an organization that admittedly has something to gain by making claims about what may or may not be in hot dogs. PETA also probably could not get away with outright saying that tasty items such as pig snouts, goat gullets, cow lips and other parts of killed animals are tossed into the meat that is eventually molded into hot dogs if there was not at least a little bit of truth behind those claims. Do some research on the company that creates the hot dogs that you choose to serve to yourself and to your loved for more information on this fun fact, as there are processors that have denied that these parts of animals are not used in the creation of their hot dogs.
3. Corn Syrup
It is possible that you have seen and/or remember those television commercials with everyday people discussing how corn syrup is not nearly as bad for us as some might think. The reality is that corn syrup is certainly something that you could do without, and it is a thickener and a sweetener that some processors use in the creation of hot dogs. Not only are you getting all those (non) benefits from the sodium that is in hot dogs. The links also have the additional calories that get packed on by the corn syrup. Hot dogs can be a salty and sweet treat, after all.
MSG has become an infamous and controversial item commonly associated with Chinese takeout restaurants, one that is used to enhance the flavors of products such as hot dogs. In fairness to certain companies, the outcry against MSG has led to some processors completely abandoning that flavoring altogether including in the making of hot dogs. Called a “silent killer” by some in the medical world, MSG has been linked with serious health problems such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Health professionals from all over the world have, over the years, strongly suggested that we should avoid MSG whenever possible.
While there is some truth to the idea that the awful things that are casually tossed into the meat used for hot dogs has been sensationalized by some, there are nevertheless plenty of good reasons to skip on them when at the market. The Hot Dogs and Food Safety page on the USDA website has the following information: “The finished products may not contain more than 30% fat or no more than 10% water, or a combination of 40% fat and added water.” 40 percent fat in anything, even a standard hot dog let alone a foot-long link, is enough to make one consider choosing a different dinner entree.