Summer Grilling: The Truth About Hot Dogs

By Betty Murray

Hot dogs are among America’s favorite summer foods. They are a staple of America’s pastime, baseball. Every year, Americans consume an estimated 20 billion hot dogs. (That equals 70 hot dogs per year per person!) On Fourth of July alone, Americans consume a collective 150 million hot dogs. That’s a lot of dogs!
Do you know what’s in those hot dogs on your grill?

Most people know that hot dogs contain a mixture of beef, pork and sausage or any combination of meats. But they also contain some ingredients and preservatives that are far less appetizing, such as mechanically separated turkey, potassium lactate, sodium phosphates, sodium diacetate, sodium nitrate and maltodextrin, to name a few.
Mechanically separated meat (MSM) is, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a “paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sive or similar device under high pressure.” Though mechanically separated beef and pork is banned by the USDA, any amount of mechanically separated turkey or chicken can be present in hot dogs.

Hot dogs can also include “variety meats,” which can include liver, kidneys and hearts. On hot dog packaging, these additional ingredients can be labeled as “variety meats” or “meat by-products.” Appetizing, isn’t it? Thankfully, there are better options.

Hot dog alternatives

It is possible to enjoy the All-American favorite without subjecting yourself to any of the preservatives or “variety meats.”

Health food stores and even some supermarkets now offer nitrate-free, organic hot dogs that contain all meat, no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives and most importantly, no meat byproducts. A better option is vegetarian hot dogs that are free of any meat products, or mechanically separated meat products.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

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