Hot Dog Lawsuit
The Cancer Project, a cancer prevention nonprofit, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three New Jersey residents against hot dog makers.
The group points to studies that show an increase in the risk of cancer from regularly consuming processed meat and wants food makers to put warning labels on hot dogs and other meats.
The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Essex County, names Kraft Foods Inc, which manufacturers Oscar Mayer, Sara Lee, Marathon Enterprises Inc. which owns Sabrett, and ConAgra Foods Inc. which owns Hebrew National.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, eating hot dogs with some frequency increases the risk of colorectal and other forms of cancer.
The class-action consumer fraud lawsuit seeks to compel five companies to put an additional label on hot dog packages sold in New Jersey that would read: “Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer.”
Dr. Neal Barnard, of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, is president of the Cancer Project and adjunct professor at the George Washington University Medical School in Washington, D.C. He likens hot dogs to tobacco.
"Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer," says Dr. Barnard, "Companies that sell hot dogs are well aware of the danger, and their customers deserve the same information."
In a report issued by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), every 1.7 ounces of processed meat (equivalent to one hot dog) consumed daily, increases colorectal cancer risk by 21 percent, the group reports.
To put that into context, AICR says a smoker has a risk of lung cancer between ten to 20 times that of a nonsmoker.
An expert panel to the AICR recommends limiting consumption of red meat to 18 ounces of cooked meat per week. Processed meats also considered are cold cuts, pepperoni, bacon, and ham, though consumers can shop for deli meats that are free of nitrites, preservatives used in cured meats.
Nitrites, bread down into nitrosamines and N-nitroso compounds considered carcinogens, says the lawsuit. The fat content of hot dogs is also of concern for its role in cancer development, obesity and heart disease.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Keith-Thomas Ayoob, a nutritionist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York said: "There is speculation that nitrosamines can increase cancer risk when consumed in large amounts and frequently. Occasionally should cause no worry. The stuff people typically have with a hot dog may be a more immediate concern: too many calories from all the fat-laden potato and macaroni salads, sugary drinks and sweet desserts."
“That’s why we recommend that if people eat processed meat at all, they save it for special occasions like ham at Christmas or the occasional hot dog at a baseball game,” said Dr. Philip James of AICR said in an undated press release.
AICR, is not affiliated with The Cancer Project and takes no position on the labeling issue.
Every year about 50,000 Americans die from colorectal cancer.
The National Cancer Institute in March reported that a study of more than a half million people linked red and processed meat consumption with a higher risk of fatal cancer and cardiovascular disease. In July, the publication linked meat consumption with the risk of breast cancer.
The lobbying group, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, reports that in 2008, U.S. consumers spent more than $3.4 billion on 730 million packages of hot dogs and sausages. The industry group says other studies contradict The Cancer Project’s findings. #