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What Is Really in Hot Dogs?

What percentage of a hot dog is actually muscle tissue?

September 4, 2008 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited



It’s funny, there was actually a forensic study of hot dogs earlier this year in the annals of diagnostic pathology to answer the age-old question, what the heck is in them? It was like a CSI episode! They found… bone, blood vessels, nerves, cartilage, skin. But the kicker, the amount of actual meat was less then 10 percent.

Anyways, how did the meat industry respond to the devastating new cancer report? Well, the beef industry spin , was that the report was “bad advice” and that “another scientific study finds no link between meat and cancer” A study that was, in their words, “independent,” “comprehensive.” “How the WCRF report could come to a different conclusion is perplexing.” Well, I found the “study” to which they refer, and be perplexed no more!

I was onto this study like brown on rice. Here, evidently, were the “facts.” So let’s compare: The WCRF report looked at 7,000 studies, this beef board’s looked at 500. This report has 537 pages; this one has 4. This report that was written by nine independent teams of scientists, hundreds of peer reviewers, and 21 of the top cancer researchers in the world. This one written by these two guys. You can’t see but the picture cuts off their cowboy hats.

Time spent to produce: This one took over 5 years; this one, literally it says “last Summer.” And finally, the report that found a link between meat and cancer was overseen by the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and funded by a leading cancer charity. This was one overseen by a scientists-for-hire for-profit firm which has come out with similar reports downplaying the risk of pesticides, asbestos, and, of course, cigarette smoke. This “independent” study bought and paid for by… the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, of course. Perplexing that they had a different conclusion.

But you think that takes gall, wait ‘til you see what the pork industry did. Smithfield, the largest pork producer in the world, launched “Deli for the Cure,” donating 5 cents to early detection for every pound sold of exactly the type of meat the WCRF report says causes the most cancer. It’s the least they could do. If they’re going to give you cancer early, might as well detect it early too.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the Hot Dogs and Leukemia video. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Breast Cancer and Diet.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the Hot Dogs and Leukemia video. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • Tan Truong

    Science wins again.

  • Jeanmaclay

    If people only knew !  Sadly, most people don’t want to know and don’t really care.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Also be sure to check out my associated blog post Breast Cancer and Diet!

  • Scott Raphael

    This is like The Ronald McDonald House. If McDonald’s has a goal to make each child ( or adult for that matter ) sick, by promoting and selling horrible garbage they pass off as food , Well , they may as well build a home next to the hospitals to put children in so they can slowly die from the poison they promote

  • Karen Veggie RN

    Why do so many hospitals serve so much fried food in their employees cafeterias?

    • Nic Gillespie

      Good for repeat business I suppose.

  • John Hanson

    Yum, all the best parts. I challenge you doctor to find any better food than bone. And you surely understand LDL metabolism and know that dietary fat and cholesterol have nothing to do with LDL creation. It’s almost all sugar-fueled. But let’s not let science get in the way.

  • Denis Spasyuk

    never had any doubts …

  • Nigel Big Game Davis

    Now Greger, I support what you do, what you’re all about; but one thing I fear is that as we eat less meat as a society, and people will start losing body fat, our women will start losing their asses. As one man to another, how can you not like a woman with an over sized ass, big wide hips and love handles? And I think a pot belly is a plus, because you get more to hold on to, and I love being able to give my girls a big hug.

    So you bet I feed my girls hot dogs and tasty cakes.

    • Thea

      Nigel: You just made me laugh!

  • emsk

    Can you give any scientic evidence that supports eating for your blood type?

    • Thea

      Evidence *for*? No

      Evidence *against*? YES

      I was recently at a conference where Susan Levine, MS, RD, CSSD (the director of nutrition education with PCRM) reported on the pros and cons of various “fad”/trend diets. She covered Eat For Your Blood Type. Here are the cons for the diet:

      “>>>Systematic Review was done. Included 16 articles. 1 met all criteria. Results: No studies show health effects, despite references in ABO books to forthcoming studies. (Cusack L, et al. Blood type diets lack supporting evidence: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. Published online May 22, 2013.)

      >>>No scientific evidence is given for recommendations.

      >>>Long lists of fruits, vegetables, grains, etc., to avoid for each blood type.”

      Basically, there is nothing to support the idea that your blood type should dictate what you eat.

      Hope that helps.

    • Toxins
  • JB

    What are the potential benefit of pig meat over the other.