Today’s Nightmare Fuel: Lab Breaks Down The Actual Composition Of Hot Dogs

So many ingredients!

Discover Magazine’s blog occasionally highlights particularly intriguing scientific papers published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in their feature fittingly titled NCBI ROFL. That’s how an incredibly important study from the Annals of Diagnostic Pathology landed on our desks. The paper is titled “Applying morphologic techniques to evaluate hotdogs: what is in the hotdogs we eat?” This is highly important research.

So what is in the hot dogs we eat? Researchers B.E. Prayson, J.T. McMahon, and R.A. Prayson studied the composition of eight common hot dog brands, all of which listed some type of meat as their top ingredient. Six of the brands listed water as the secondary ingredient, and two brands listed another type of meat as the secondary ingredient. What they found was that water was by far the primary ingredient, accounting for 44% to 69% of each dog (57% median).

As for actual meat — as in skeletal muscle — the results didn’t jibe with the package labels. The hot dogs tested were only 2.9% to 21.2% actual meat, with a median of less than six percent meat. Not surprisingly, they found a direct correlation between the cost of the brand and the percentage of meat content.

On the bright side, none of the hot dogs tested positive for brain tissue when subjected to Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) staining. So at least the mad cow won’t be getting us today. On the not so bright side, all eight brands contained bone particles, collagen, blood vessels, and plant material. Plant materials? As in vegetables? AW HAIL NO! Get out of my hot dog, vegetable!

In addition to the bone, collagen, blood vessels, and plant material, seven out of the eight brands also contained peripheral nerves. Five brands contained adipose tissue, and four contained cartilage. One awesome brand contained delicious skin tissue.

Wow. That’s horrifically disgusting and I could really go for a hot dog right about now.