6/30/10

Serving Up Hot Dogs This Fourth of July? What is IN Your Hot Dog Anyway?

For my American readers, the Fourth of July holiday is coming up this weekend. This means a lot of us will be heading to the backyard BBQ to fire up the grill and throw on some chicken breasts, veggies, steaks, burgers and hot dogs.

Yesterday on my way home from work I stopped by the store to pick up steaks, ground beef and yes, even hot dogs for our holiday grill out as well. Not a fan of hot dogs in general, I usually forgo them but I know they are a favorite of many people and since we'll be grilling for extra teenagers and another couple, I bought them as well.

This gave way to todays post. Just what is IN hot dogs anyway? This led me on a little quest this morning and I am posting my findings here so you know as well!

Hot dogs may contain “variety meats” and meat byproducts including the heart, liver and kidneys of various animals along with regular meat cut from the bone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To be considered hot dogs, frankfurters, wieners or bologna by the USDA, the processed meat product must also “consist of not less than 15% of one or more kinds of raw skeletal muscle meat with raw meat byproducts.”

Every species of meat must be named individually in a hot dog package’s list of ingredients, the USDA says. Hot dog producers often make their products from mechanically separated meat, “a paste-like and batter-like meat product,” the USDA explains.

Mechanically separated beef, which is a paste-like substance made in a process that separates meat from bone by machine, isn’t allowed in hot dogs or any other food for humans because it could contain Mad Cow Disease, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

Additionally, hot dogs can’t contain more than 20% mechanically separated pork.

When we moved to the Midwest we found a regional favorite was 'brats' even more than hot dogs! Beer brats, jalapeno brats, cheese brats... the list goes on. So I looked into bratwurst as well.

Bratwurst can definitely be a more meaty and flavorful experience than your average hot dog, and its ingredients might be more easily identified by taste.

Typically a brat is nearly twice the size of a regular hot dog, and given its size and weight, contains much less sodium for its weight than a regular dog with 650 mg, or 27% of your daily max.

Besides being bigger than hot dogs, bratwursts originally hail from Germany and consist of finely chopped pork, beef or veal.
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