GOOD

Understanding the Chemicals In Your Hot Dog

In the upside-down world of labeling, hot dogs can be “all-natural” even if they contain nitrates.


Here's what fireworks, chemical fertilizers, and frankfurters have in common­: They all contain nitrogen compounds. Sodium nitrates, which are used as a preservative in standard hot dogs, have inspired a decades-long scientific debate over their possible health risks to humans. Perhaps you'd like to keep tabs on how much nitrate is in the hot dogs you're scarfing this summer­­. Unfortunately, you can't.

Here's the thing: Even uncured, “nitrate-free” meats contain healthy doses of nitrates. So do many raw vegetables and most municipal water supplies. In fact, "natural" meats can contain even more nitrite than your standard heavily-processed bacon strips and hot dogs. A recent report in The New York Times pointed to a study that found “natural hot dogs had anywhere from one-half to 10 times the amount of nitrates that conventional hot dogs contained"—usually courtesy of naturally occurring nitrates in celery. (Celery juice is often used in the meat.)


Natural products are required to indicate on the label that they contain nitrate or nitrite. But as the Times’ William Neuman reports,

The current rules bizarrely require products that derive the preservatives from natural sources to prominently place the words “Uncured” and “No nitrates or nitrites added” on the label even though they are cured and do contain the chemicals.

\n

Now the USDA is considering long-overdue changes to its labeling requirements. Over the last 20 years, research has upended our understanding of nitrates as a toxic, synthetic chemical, write Nathan S. Bryan and Joseph Loscalzo in Nitrite and Nitrate in Human Health and Disease. Still, scientists and regulators alike have not adequately addressed its health risks, naturally-occurring or otherwise.

The confusion here hints at a deeper issue with food labeling. Competing claims about foods—whether "all-natural," "trans-fat free," or "fat-free"—can give the ingredients we eat a false halo of health. Sure, your salty, fatty tube of meat may be nitrate-free. Whether it's good for you­­­­ is another question entirely. Under our current labeling system, it's anyone's guess.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user Pabo76

Articles
via David Leavitt / Twitter and RealTargetTori / Twitter

Last Friday, GOOD reported on an infuriating incident that went down at a Massachusetts Target.

A Target manager who's come to be known as "Target Tori," was harassed by Twitter troll David Leavitt for not selling him an $89 Oral-B Pro 5000 toothbrush for a penny.

He describes himself as a "multimedia journalist who has worked for CBS, AXS, Yahoo, and others."

Keep Reading
Communities
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business
via Haldean Brown / Flickr

In a typical work day, people who smoke take more breaks than those who do not. Every few hours they pop outside to have a smoke and usually take a coworker with them.

Don Bryden, Managing director at KCJ Training and Employment Solutions in Swindon, England, thinks that nonsmokers and smokers should be treated equally, so he's giving those who refrain from smoking four extra days to compensate.

Funny enough, Bryden is a smoker himself.

Keep Reading
Health