Hot Dogs: Proceed With Caution – Health Risk and Downsides

The hot dog is one of the most classic fast foods you’ll get across the globe, especially in America. While most of us may love our comfort food, hot dogs do come with their disadvantages, drawbacks, and risks. The health risks associated with hot dogs are not just painful but are also fatal.

Firstly, hot dogs are often produced using highly-processed meats containing a whole phonebook of nitrates, nitrites, dyes, additives, and preservatives. So it’s a scary reality that hot dogs actually contain more chemicals than meat protein. And while hot dogs are easy to cook and are comforting mealtime treats, they can cause you to gain extra pounds because of their high-fat content. 

study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan found out that eating one hot dog can cost you about 1/2 hour of a healthy life! But are there more risks? Yes, there are! So, without further ado, here are the 15 disadvantages and risks of hot dogs.

1. The hot dog is processed meat! 

The juiciness of the hot dog, combined with your favorite toppings and condiments, probably buries the fact that the meat is processed. Eating processed meat is often associated with an unhealthy lifestyle. That’s because processed meat is a concoction of all the leftover parts of the animal.  

It’s linked with harmful effects on health, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and bowel and stomach cancer. The studies conducted on processed meat are convincing. For example, studies in rats have indicated a higher risk of bowel cancer when fed processed meat. That’s because it often contains harmful chemical compounds that can increase the risk of cancer. 

2. The number of preservatives is too high!

Some hot dog brands do their best to make the mushed meat as colorful as possible. It does not improve the taste by any means. Instead, it makes the meat look even more mouthwatering to the eyes, as it might be for many of us. 

Not only that, but an additional insane number of preservatives to improve the shelf life are also used. Compounds like sodium nitrate, sodium diacetate, and sodium erythorbate are added into hot dog mush. The mush is then molded by using a casing and then baked. 

Not only do the preservatives make the hot dogs cancerous to eat, but they also make the hot dogs sound unhygienic and toxic to eat. 

3. Hot dogs can increase the risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

According to findings, people who eat the most processed meats have an additional 33 percent risk of getting type 2 diabetes for every serving. That’s only one hot dog per day. Considering how easy it is to get a tasty hot dog, the number is hardly a significant amount. 

They’re just too high in nitrates and nitrites that can damage the pancreatic cells that make insulin. 

4. Hot dog ingredients can be pretty shady.

Hot dogs contain questionable ingredients. The word questionable is frightening as every human deserves to know what they’re actually eating. People tend to regularly find very strange, off-putting, and dangerous things inside their hot dogs. Unfortunately, such incidents don’t make it to mainstream news, which may be why you probably haven’t heard of it as much as we did. 

Here’s a short list of things we learned were found inside hot dogs: plastic, silverfish, rubber bands, hair clumps, razor blades, glass, buttons, pills, and insects. Just as things couldn’t get more frightening, unexpected animal parts are also used to make hot dogs, such as pig snouts, intestines, animal organs, and skeletal muscles. Apparently, they’re not illegal to use. 

5. They can cause allergic reactions.

Hot dogs are cooked mush. All the different ingredients are blended so well that it’s just so easy not to think about what could be inside. All hot dog brands use different ingredients, and it may only take one of the many to cause a painful allergic reaction. However, it’s not surprising or shocking. They just contain a grocery list of ingredients. 

Many people are allergic to the food dyes, preservatives, and meat trimmings used in hot dogs. That’s just alarming! 

6. Not good for your heart.

A breakup can be devastating to the heart, but hot dogs can literally cause your heart to stop. Hot dogs are high in sodium and saturated fat. A typical hot dog contains more than a quarter of your day’s sodium requirement and over 14 grams of fat. 

According to a study published in Public Health Nutrition, a data set of 150,000 deaths showed that the more processed and red meat people ate, the higher the chance of dying from heart disease. Life is already short enough. So, there is simply no need to make it even shorter.

7. They’re not only bad for you. 

So far, we have only talked about the disadvantages and the risks associated with hot dog consumption in the case of humans. Turns out, they can be just as harmful to the environment. The production of hot dogs comes with destruction and devastation. Yes, our favorite summer treats are pretty evil. 

Firstly, hot dogs have high water and carbon footprint. Approximately 6,000 liters of water and 8 kilograms of carbon dioxide are used to make one kilogram of hot dog meat. 

8. Hot dogs aren’t for dogs also.

This piece of information may interest you if you’re a dog owner – or a pet owner in general. Unfortunately, there’s a considerable number of dog owners who feed leftovers to dogs. And there’s a possibility that hot dogs could be fed to dogs. 

The fact that you shouldn’t feed hot dogs to your beloved pet is worrying. That’s because animals tend to have more efficient stomachs than humans. So, if hot dogs aren’t good for animals, then how could they be good for humans like us? 

9. Even laborers get harmed.

Of course, the more people buy hot dogs, the greater the incentive for big companies to keep producing them. The production of hot dogs itself poses hazardous risks to meat processing workers. 

According to findings, such workers have some of the highest rates of injury and illness in America. The work environment provided is not only dirty but is dangerous as well. In some cases, workers can be severely injured due to malfunctioning machines. The injuries are just unimaginable. 

10. Hot dogs are acidic.

Hot dogs have a pH level of 3.0 after digestion. According to a report from San Diego State University, eating acidic food can increase the rate of cancer and other diseases in cancer survivors. Consuming too much acidic food can also increase the level of dehydration. The minerals in the meat mush leave acid ash inside the stomach after consumption. This is one of the leading causes of chronic diseases. 

11. Hot dogs can cause food poisoning.

Hot dogs can cause food poisoning. If hot dogs are cooked or reheated, then the risk is minimal. However, hot dogs are sometimes used in salads or other cold foods. Of course, you won’t reheat a salad. So, eating cold and leftover hot dogs can cause food poisoning. That’s because the meat gets contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes. 

12. They’re definitely not kid-friendly.

Hot dogs are popular among kids. Parents don’t mind feeding kids hot dogs because they’re inexpensive, easy to make, and kids eat them without any fuss. Unfortunately, the long tube-shaped treat can create a choking hazard, especially for kids under three years old. 

13. Hot dogs may contain white slime.

White slime is a term used for “mechanically separated meat.” It’s not appetizing, and the white slime can easily hide foreign ingredients. 

14. When considering the cons, hot dogs practically have little health benefits.

Though hot dogs do contain protein, there are more bad things inside the processed meat than good things. Thus, the dangers of hot dogs pretty much nullify any associated health benefit that comes with hot dogs.

15. Hot dogs just add more work.

The amount of fat inside the hot dog is surreal. One serving of a hot dog has about 14 grams of fat. To make matters worse, food vendors usually provide more than one serving at a very low price. This adds more work if you want to stay healthy and fit. You’ll have to work harder to burn the extra fat you gain by eating a hot dog. 

And that’s how bad hot dogs can be…

It’s easy to say that hot dogs are bad for us, but it’s just as hard to avoid them. They just look so harmless and tasty to the eye. That’s probably why hot dogs are one of the most popular classic foods globally, especially in the USA. 

We can’t lie and say that they’re disgusting taste-wise. Not to mention, hot dogs are also highly addictive. But we should consider the disadvantages, drawbacks, and risks associated with hot dogs before taking one small nibble. 

Hot dogs bring a mountain of risks with them, so the list we shared is just for mentioning at least a few of them. Nevertheless, this list had to come to light so that people become more aware of the harmful effects on their health. And like they all say, health is wealth!

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This article was co-authored by our team of writers and editors who share one thing in common: their passion for food and drinks!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco works as a New York-based editor at Foodrinke, driven by his lifelong love for food. His culinary journey began in childhood, as he eagerly assisted his mother with her local sandwich and bakery business, relishing every opportunity to sample her creations. Known among family and friends as an easy eater, JC has a particular affinity for Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and Peruvian cuisine. At Foodrinke, he channels his passion for food into his work, sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge with readers.