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Surprising Science

What’s in Your 4th of July Hot Dog?

Poor regulatory standards make it nearly impossible for consumers to get the truth about the presence of the cancer-causing preservatives nitrate and nitrite in their hot dogs. 

What’s the Latest Development?

When you fire up the grill this holiday weekend, you may not know what you’re eating, even if you’ve done your due diligence. Hot dogs are infamous for their meat quality, but which animal is used to make hot dogs, or which part of which animal, may not be consumers’ biggest concern. Nitrate and nitrite are two chemicals linked to cancer which are also used as preservatives in hot dogs. And because of U.S.D.A. regulations, manufacturers which derive the chemicals from natural sources are required to declare that their product contains no nitrate or nitrite, even though it does. 

What’s the Big Idea?

All sides agree that the current problem is one of regulation, not that business is manipulating government rules. There is general confusion in the food industry over what constitutes a natural product and how consumers react to foods labeled “all natural”. The problem is that chemicals derived from natural products, such as nitrate derived from celery juice, currently receive a certification of being “all natural” while their chemical composition is nearly identical to those created synthetically. 


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