We’re guessing that cancer-linked preservatives weren’t on Joey Chestnut’s mind when he scarfed down 62 hot dogs to win the annual Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest yesterday. But even if he was remotely concerned about the amount of nitrites he was consuming, the labels on Nathan’s wieners wouldn’t have been much help in determining what, exactly, he was eating.
As The New York Times reports, the labels on processed meats are “virtually impossible to decipher” thanks to long-standing federal rules that require manufacturers to label products containing preservatives from natural sources as “uncured” and “no nitrates or nitrites added,” despite the fact that they are cured and contain chemicals.
Although food manufacturers are trying to get the feds to change their rules to allow for more truthful labeling, the upshot of this is that hot dogs labeled “organic” and “natural” often contain just as much crap as their run-of-the-mill, industrially produced counterparts. If not more: One particularly gloomy study from The Journal of Food Protection discovered that natural hot dogs contained as much as 10 times the amount of nitrite found in conventional dogs, and natural bacon up to more than twice as much as its conventional counterpart.
Scandalous. The next thing they’ll tell us is that organic produce is actually grown with pesticides.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 5, 2011