Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Meat Lobbyists Angered by "Hot Dogs Cause Butt Cancer" Billboard

Chicago commuters were greeted this week by a billboard shrilly proclaiming "Hot Dogs Cause Butt Cancer." 

The sign, located on the busy Eisenhower Expressway, is sponsored by longtime health activist group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, led by Dr. Neal Barnard of George Washington University. 
"The billboard’s blunt language was prompted by a recent survey showing that a surprising number—39 percent—of Americans do not know what the colon is," writes 

“Colon cancer is a killer, and processed meats get much of the blame.  Many Americans have no idea that eating hot dogs and bacon raises their risk of this deadly disease. Even a few servings of processed meat a week can increase cancer danger," comments Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., nutrition education director of the PCRM. 

Why Chicago? Explains the PCRM:
"Americans eat 20 billion hot dogs a year, as well as significant amounts of bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats. Chicago is one of the largest consumers of hot dogs nationwide, and hot dog restaurants here are said to outnumber all fast-food restaurants combined. The Chicago area is home to leading hot dog manufacturers like Kraft Foods, which produces Oscar Mayer franks, Sara Lee, producer of Ball Park Franks, and Vienna Beef.
"Illinois also has one of the nation’s highest rates of colorectal cancer... Illinois ranks sixth in the nation for colorectal cancer incidence rates... Every year, more than 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 50,000 die of it." 
 The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council retorted:
"Hot dogs are part of a healthy, balanced diet. They come in a variety of nutrition and taste formulas and they are an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals. This group's claims are on a collision course with the facts." 
 The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, part of the American Meat Institute,  is a Washington D.C. lobbyist organization  that " is funded by contributions from hot dog and sausage manufacturers."   

The American Meat Institute is a major D.C. lobbyist and "a national trade association that represents companies that process 95 percent of red meat and 70 percent of turkey in the US."  AMI's president angrily dubs the PCRM a "pro-vegetarian animal rights group in doctors' clothing."
The Truth about Hot Dogs
A hot dog is a type of sausage that typically contains:
  • "meat trimmings and animal fat"
  • flavorings (salt, paprika, garlic) and artificial flavorings
  • additives, fillers, binders, preservatives, including sodium nitrate, a known carcinogen that is also linked to increased rates of Alzheimer's, diabetes, and Parkinson's
Hot dogs are usually cooked before eaten, mainly because "an unopened, packaged hot dog can have listeriosis bacteria," per Wikipedia.

Listeriosis is a bacterial infection that can cause  fever, muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhea. In very rare cases, listeriosis can  lead to meningitis. Pregnant women and senior citizens are at special risk from listeriosis infections. 

Scientific American magazine analyzed hot dogs last July 4th, and found that sample dogs included: 
  • Beef stock which is "usually made by boiling water with pieces of muscle, bones, joints, connective tissue and other parts of the carcass"
  • Processed turkey described by the USDA as a "paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sive or similar device" 
  • Corn syrup
  • Salt
  • Potassium lactate 
  • Sodium phosphates
  • Sodium diacetate 
  • Sodium erythorbate 
  • Maltodextrin 
Research by the American Institute for Cancer Research supports Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's blaring billboard that "Hot Dogs Cause Butt Cancer." An AICR  report found that consuming one 50-gram serving of processed meat — about one hot dog — every day increases risk of colorectal cancer by 20 percent. 

Per CBS News, "Recent studies have also tied eating processed meats to increased risks for bladder and pancreatic cancer."

The AICR has  filed a class-action lawsuit demanding warning labels on packages and at sporting events.

As for that tacky but medically accurate billboard? 

The PCRM is rightfully so gratified that their anti-fake food message is finally breaking through, that they sponsored a second billboard, in Indiana:Warning: Hot Dogs Can Wreck Your Health.

I say BRAVO to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in their brave battle against disease-causing fake foods! We desperately need ethics-grounded groups as the PCRM willing to take on the modern industrial food complex. 


  1. Hotdogs in the first place is not a healthy food. Nutritionist in Long Island NY told me to have a nutritious diet and stay away from this kind of food.

  2. It is not wrong to eat hotdogs but we must lessen the consumption of it. It is still meat and eating meat all the time is not good for our health. If we really love hotdogs, maybe we can consider the veggie hotdog as our alternative.