Dubious Health Org Declares Hot Dogs as Bad as Cigarettes

Posted by / Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Outside of everything, we can agree that this is an ugly billboard, right? (Image Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

An anti-hot dog billboard that popped up outside of Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been making the internet rounds this week. The billboard compares the health hazards of eating hot dogs to smoking cigarettes. How do we know that’s true? Because “doctors,” that’s why.

The billboard was put up by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a D.C. based non-profit that promotes veganism, opposition to animal testing, preventative medicine and legislation promoting healthier lifestyles. You know, quacks.

In any case, the group’s accompanying literature has this to say: “’A hot dog a day could send you to an early grave,’ says PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. ‘Processed meats like hot dogs can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and various types of cancer. Like cigarettes, hot dogs should come with a warning label that helps racing fans and other consumers understand the health risk.’”

To respond, The Indianapolis Star dug up a quote from the American Cancer Society that doesn’t exactly corroborate: “It is not necessary to eliminate consumption of red or processed meat; rather the message is that these foods should not be the mainstay of your diet.”

A lot of the coverage on this topic has been getting quotes from the other side of the coin, the meat producer, which is about as productive as talking to tobacco growers. Here’s a favorite from the Des Moines Register: “If meat causes cancer, would the government allow it to be sold?” said [Wayne] Sheets.”

But the question that I want answered in all of this hubbub, which should last another, oh, 4 hours or so, and that’s this: Everyone knows that hot dogs are bad for you, and are loaded with salt and fat and nitrates and god knows what else, but who, outside of baseball park employees, eats hot dogs every day?

Gut Check. We ask the hard questions.

- Kris King

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