Picture by: Kashfia Rahman
You may have already seen that hot dogs are on my general naughty list because milk is frequently included as an ingredient. Let’s face it, in commercial food production, the average cheapo hot dog is one step above pet food. We’re talking discard “meats” and fats and scraps and mechanically separated stuff. When you’re dealing with low grade, you gotta flavor it, and milk products and derivatives is one of those ways.
As long as you don’t have a milk allergy like my son, flavoring with milk products is probably one of the better options. Scary, eh? Behold:
That’s a heck of an ingredient list.
If the first thing that crosses your mind is “I don’t even know what most of this is” that’s a good alarm bell to have. Even the size of the list is kind of alarming. How much crap do they really have to add to your hot dog… and why?
Let’s let the power of the internet weigh in.
- Sorbitol: Most common uses – sweetener… and laxative.
- Modified Corn Starch: A starch chemically altered for one of many purposes. Most likely usage in this context – fat substitute.
- Potassium Lactate: Not a dairy derivative, despite the name… it’s actually a salt created when lactic acid created during the fermentation of sugar is neutralized. Usage: antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. AKA – Preservative.
- Corn Syrup: Sweetener. You may have seen the corn farmers advertising like crazy with the pretty lady asking “What’s wrong with corn syrup? That it’s made from corn?” Lady, you enjoy your paycheck from the devil. If there’s a whole multi-million dollar campaign trying to influence public perception in your favor… well. Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. We’ll save corn syrup rants for other days.
- Partially Hydrolyzed Beef Stock: This one’s a tricky one. To simplify greatly, to hydrolyze something means to break the amino acid structure of a protein down, or pre-digest it, if you will. I say pre-digested, because the chemical used in breaking down the protein is frequently hydrochloric acid, the same as in your own stomach (though probably in much lower concentrations and minus the extensive boiling). Hydrolyzed proteins get into your system more quickly than proteins that aren’t, and so they’re frequently used as a binder in drugs for this very reason. What’s the reasoning for hydrolyzing in a hot dog? Well, the acid used to hydrolyze a protein must be neutralized– frequently with something like sodium hydroxide. This leaves a solution called glutamic acid – a very close relative of a chemical people are more likely to recognize in its sodium salt version… MSG.
- Sodium Phosphates: Meat preservative, but also possibly included because sodium phosphate is a salt obtained when you mix sodium hydroxide and phosphoric acid. See above.
- Flavorings: Mmm.
- Sodium Diacetate: A sodium salt of acetic acid (vinegar). Wikipedia sums it up rather bluntly as “used to impart a salt and vinegar flavor.“
- Ascorbic Acid (“Vitamin C”): Note the quotation marks, as there is a lot of heat over calling it a vitamin, since it’s from a highly refined source. Another preservative and a very widely used one. My real beef (ba dum ching) with ascorbic acid is that its source is unnamed. It could be from anywhere. But usually, it’s processed out of glucose, which usually comes from corn, which a staggering percentage of (last I checked, 88%) of which is genetically modified.
- Sodium Nitrite: A food additive and preservative. Hey, lots of nitrates and nitrites are bad for you, this is old news. But it’s still being used… cause.
- Extractives of Paprika: ??? Cause using real paprika costs more?
I still haven’t even gotten to the bun!!!! Added “nutrients,” sweetener, cheap high GMO’d to be roundup-ready oil, preservatives, added starch, chemical softeners, anti-caking agent, and a fertilizer/fire retardant called DAP which is also sometimes used to feed yeast.
Sounds delish, right?
And lest ye think I’m picking on hot dogs, well, the truth is that if you eat fast food, or buy frozen chicken tenders and hors d’ouvres and anything not made at a local bakery, this stuff is no stranger to your food. What I can promise you if you stay out of the ready-made items at the grocery store, you’re a lot less likely to see them.