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It is impossible to imagine American street food without hot dogs: citizens consume mind-blowing amount of hot dogs every second and it is said that on the 4th of July Americans will eat not less than 150 million hotdogs. No wonder that consumers want to know more about the contents of their favorite munchies.
Of course, every brand has its own recipe for this dish, so the list of ingredients varies from one brand to another. The logic goes, what can be complicated with a sausage, bun and sauce? However, producers tend to add many ingredients that help to add flavor, keep dogs juicy, prevent bacterial growth, add some smokiness and so on.
All ingredients should be accepted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here is a list of ingredients that are most likely to be used in every hot dog no matter what is the producer.
Mechanically separated poultry. According to the USDA regulation it is a product produced from removing meat off the bones of chicken or turkey using various filters. The amount of poultry in sausages is not limited, unlike pork or beef. (www.foodsafety.org)
Pork. It is a meat that is taken from the bone by “advanced meat recovery (AMM) machinery.
Water. Content of water in hot dogs should not exceed 10%.
Corn syrup. Producers should not use high-fructose corn syrup, this one if made differently and used to add sweetness to the dog.
Beef. Beef meat in the sausage should not be mechanically separated. This decision was adopted by the USDA after the outbreak of mad cow disease. (www.usda.gov)
Salt. Every hot dog contains 480 milligrams of salt – that is approximately 20% of the guideline daily amounts.
Potassium lactate. Meat preservative produced from neutralized lactic acid.
Flavorings. Under USDA guideline producers do not have to list all flavoring agents, however, it is essential to point out that there is a “flavor” agent in the hot dog.
Sodium diacetate. Another food preservative aimed to fight fungus, made from sodium acetate (can be found in hand warmers) and acetic acid.
Sodium erythorbate. Meat preservative that give pink color to meat products. Some people may suffer from gastrointestinal issues and headaches if to consume this preservative in large amounts.
Sodium nitrate. Food preservative that prevents development of botulism in products. Also used in fireworks.
Maltodextrin. Thickening agent made of cooked starch.
Paprika extract. An oil-based extract that gives red color and preserves food.
Apart from all the ingredients listed above, hot dogs can contain really unexpected ingredients. For example, resent research of Food testing company Clear Food revealed shocking news: 1 in every 50 hit dogs contains human DNA. Scientists believe that it was saliva or other bodily fluids (Mirror).
3% of turkey or chicken hot dogs contained pork meat instead of bird meat.
Overall 14.4% of hotdogs in the research contained “problematic ingredients” and even “suspicious meat”. (Mirror)
From the beginning of the history of hotdogs people always raised a lot of questions about the ingredients. With today’s variety of hot dog types the questions remain actual, however, no matter what, it is up to consumers whether to eat them or not.