A non-profit vegan and nutrition advocacy group thinks so. The group Cancer Project filed a lawsuit in New Jersey demanding that food companies like Oscar Mayer and Hebrew National put warning labels on hot dogs, saying that eating this product and other processed meats "increases the risk of cancer."
The president of the group compares hot dogs to cigarettes -- just like ciggies are linked to lung cancer, the nitrates in hot dogs and other processed meats have been linked to colon cancer in some studies.
Cancer Project wants the baseball commissioner to put the labels on hot dogs sold at Major League Baseball Games.
You can guess what the hot dog people are saying about all this.
One nutritionist quoted in the Medical News Today article says it's not the nitrates in the hot dogs that can kill you but the high fat. Another thinks it's more the stuff you eat with hot dogs -- sugary sodas and fat laden fries or potato salad -- that does the damage.
I've followed the whole "nitrate debate" for a while. As far as what this common food preservative does to us, this falls into the category of "no definitive evidence either way." Nitrates are in lots of things that moms and families love besides hot dogs: bacon, ham, some roaster chickens, cold cuts.
So this is where mom's judgement comes into play. I keep hot dogs to a minimum in my home, and only serve the nitrate-free kind that doesn't taste as good. But when we're out and someone is serving regular dogs, I don't make a fuss.
What about you? Is your family living a nitrate-free existence? Do you think foods containing sketchy but not confirmed dangerous ingredients should include warning labels?