A summer staple in many households, hot dogs are often thrown on the grill without any thought about what is actually in them or where they came from. But the truth is hard to swallow.
First, hot dogs are mainly made of animal products called “trimmings, a purposely vague word. Trimmings come from a bunch of different animals, including turkeys, cows, and pigs. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, trimmings consist of animal skin, blood, liver, head meat, animal feet, “lower-grade meat, such as fatty tissues, and “other edible slaughter by-products. Let’s repeat: other edible slaughter by-products—again, purposely vague. But hey, head and feet meat get labeled. What could be more disgusting than that?
These trimmings may also contain a lot of bacteria, so the animal parts are precooked in temperatures ranging from 150 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps not only to kill some bacteria but also to separate the meat from the head and feet bones.
If that’s not enough to make you gag, I have two words for you: “meat batter. Essentially, all this precooked animal flesh is thrown into a grinder so it resembles hamburger. Once that’s done, chicken trimmings are added with water, seasonings, and corn syrup, and it’s all churned until it becomes “batter.
If you can stomach it, check out this video from How It’s Made.
While meat batter is often put into cellulose casings, it can sometimes be put into “natural casings, or the intestines of an animal. Think about that every time a hot dog eating contest shows up on TV.
Hot dogs contain not only some of the most disgusting ingredients (turned into a substance resembling pink slime) but also nitrates, which have been linked to Type 2 diabetes. Processed meats, including hot dogs, are also in the same carcinogenic category as cigarettes and increase your risk of cancer.
If the nasty ingredients and health dangers of hot dogs aren’t enough to make you think twice, consider this: Innocent animals suffer unimaginable cruelty just so hot dogs can be produced.
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