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Lawsuit: Hot dogs need warning label

Anti-meat group says processed meat poses serious health risk.

By Karen Datko Sep 26, 2009 2:40AM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.


Many modern-day baseball stadiums prohibit smoking, but cancer danger apparently still lurks around the corner: An anti-meat consumer group alleges in a class-action that hot dogs pose serious health risks and need to carry warning labels.


The lawsuit was filed in Essex County, N.J., by The Cancer Project on behalf of three New Jersey residents. Among the named defendants are Nathan's Famous; Kraft Foods, which manufactures Oscar Mayer wieners; Sara Lee; ConAgra, which makes Hebrew National franks; and Marathon, manufacturer of Sabrett, "the frankfurter New Yorker's [sic] relish."


The plaintiffs envision a warning label similar to the one on cigarette packages. The wording would look something like: "Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer."


The suit notes that a two-year-old study from the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that eating the amount of processed meat in a single hot dog -- about 2 ounces -- every day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 21%. That study recommends limiting red meat consumption to 18 ounces per week, and avoiding processed meats altogether. Another study, released this year by the National Cancer Institute, found that people who eat large amounts of red and processed meats are more likely to die from cancer or cardiovascular disease.


Nitrites, used to keep hot dogs fresh, are the main culprit, according to the suit: They join themselves to naturally occurring amines, forming carcinogenic compounds. 



The Cancer Project, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., is focused on promoting a healthy diet that decreases the risk of cancer. The group specifically recommends a diet that is "free of animal products, high in plant foods, and low in fat."


According to The Cancer Project, Americans ate 1.5 billion pounds of hot dogs in 2006 and the average person eats 32 pounds of processed meat a year.


Related reading at ConsumerAffairs.com:

Published July 30, 2009
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