The long weekend marks the beginning of this year’s barbecue season, and if you’re like most Americans, there will surely be some form of frankfurter sizzling away on your grill.
Hot Dogs are a big business (billions of dollars a year), and as the weather heats up, so do the marketing battles between the market players.
As food companies like to sue each other every once in while in turf wars, how timely it is to read about a weiner war, with Kraft’s Oscar Meyer Brand getting sued by Sara Lee (Ball Park brand) over “We are tastier” claims.
From a nutritional standpoint, the products are very similar, and sadly, very poor in nutritional value.
What you need to know:
Here’s the beef on Oscar Mayers Jumbo Beef Franks.
Nutrition data: A serving is one frank, and it comes in at 2 ounces and 170 calories (130 of which are from fat). Seven of the 15 grams of fat are saturated, and that’s a third of a day’s maximum value. There is also a bonus 1 gram of trans fat. Trans fat does occur in small amounts naturally, for example in the digestive systems of ruminant animals such as cows and sheep.
A single frank also contains 590mg of sodium, or a quarter of your daily maximum value, BEFORE adding the salt in ketchup, mustard, relish, and the bun.
Ingredients: Beef, Water, Contains Less Than 2% Of: Salt, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Diacetate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Extractives Of Paprika, Dried Garlic, Spice, Sodium Nitrite.
Beef – don’t think for a minute you’re getting any prime cuts here. processed meats usually include the least desirable scraps. And if the trans fat is any indication, we’re getting some internal organs such as intestines as well.
Water – a great cost cutting scheme is to pump meat with water. Companies are legally allowed to add up to 10% water.
Salt – and lots of it, unfortunately.
Corn Syrup – it’s not clear why a sweetener is required in a hot dog
Dextrose – a fancy name sugar (or glucose).
Sodium Lactate (E325) – used in meat and poultry products to extend shelf life. Acts against spoilage due to its antimicrobial properties.
Sodium Phosphates – Help bind the meat to the water. Also increase the shelf life of the food while maintaining texture and appearance.
Sodium Diacetate (E262) – An acid used as a preservative.
Ascorbic acid – not added for your health, but rather to increase the rate of curing of the meat.
Sodium Nitrite (E250) – A naturally occurring mineral used as a preservative in meat products against bacteria that cause botulism. Unfortunately it’s a precursor of carcinogenic nitrosamines, which are especially reactive in young children.
What to do at the supermarket:
Sorry to break an American tradition, but hot dogs are not one of our favorite items in the supermarket. Because it’s a highly processed meat, you don’t know what parts of the animal have been used in hot dogs (Think about the origin of the name hot DOG?). The high salt content masks the non-taste, and so do the mounds of ketchup and mustard added when serving. Specialty sausages could be a better choice. Organic franks are a tad better too because they don’t contain nitrates / nitrites. But as a rule, buying an identifiable piece of meat and preparing it into a dinner is a preferred choice.
Help us test our new food comparison tool: alpha.fooducate.com