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Summer Health and Safety

Getting Frank About What’s in Your Hot Dog

Like flour for a cake, meat and poultry are the basic, most essential building blocks of hot dogs. Beef cut from steaks or roasts and pork cut from chops or tenderloins are finely ground into a cakelike batter and mixed with other spices, flavorings and curing ingredients to give hot dogs their distinctive taste and texture. 

Toppings may vary

And much like cakes, ingredients used in hot dogs vary to meet diverse consumer taste and nutrition preferences. Seasonings like salt, pepper, cumin, paprika and garlic can add flavor, keep hot dogs moist and juicy as well as delay spoilage. 

Sodium nitrite is commonly used to give the hot dog its characteristic pink color and uniquely cured taste. Today many manufacturers are also offering hot dogs made with celery powder, a natural form of nitrite that USDA requires be labeled as “uncured.” Sources of Vitamin C such as ascorbic acid or sodium erythorbate are also used in conjunction with various forms of nitrite to cure the hot dog more evenly.

Safe eats

These ingredients don’t just help enhance flavor, appearance and texture — they also perform important functions like preventing bacterial growth so you can be sure the hot dogs you’re eating are safe.

Consumers can relish in the fact that the ingredients used in hot dogs must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and accepted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and all ingredients must be clearly detailed on the product label — that’s something worth savoring. 

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