Cancer Project Sues Hot Dog Manufacturers
Another lawsuit’s in the works: the Cancer Project – a vegan-oriented physician’s group concerned with dietary approaches to cancer prevention/survival – is suing the major hot dog manufacturers for fraud on behalf of three New Jersey consumers.
WASHINGTON—Three New Jersey residents are suing Nathan’s Famous, Kraft Foods/Oscar Mayer, Sara Lee, Con Agra Foods, and Marathon Enterprises for failing to warn consumers that hot dogs increase the danger of colorectal cancer. The action comes in the wake of landmark scientific studies linking hot dogs and similar meats to colon cancer.
The class-action consumer fraud lawsuit, which is being filed July 22 in Superior Court in Essex County, seeks to compel all five companies to place cancer-risk warning labels on hot dog packages sold in New Jersey. The labels would read “Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer.”
The nonprofit Cancer Project is filing the suit on behalf of John O’Donnell, Ruthann Hilland, and Michele DeScisciolo, who purchased hot dogs made by the companies without being made aware that processed meat products are a cause of colorectal cancer.
“Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer,” says Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the Cancer Project. “Companies that sell hot dogs are well aware of the danger, and their customers deserve the same information.”
Efforts to put warning labels on hot dog packages are “crazy,” said Josh Urdang, 27, as he stood in line to buy two franks at Pink’s hot dog stand in Hollywood on Tuesday.
“It wouldn’t change how many hot dogs I eat. Not at all,” said Urdang, an information technology consultant from Hollywood.
His friend Joe Di Lauro, 31, called such a move “overpolicing. . . . At what point do you stop breaking things down? Unless we’re going to put a warning label on every single food and say what’s bad in it.”
…Nutrition experts say that the science is far more complicated and that slapping warning labels on the staple of baseball games and picnics would not have much effect on public health.
“If one were to call for a ‘black label’ on frankfurters, where should the warning label end? If we were to evaluate each food for its naturally occurring toxins and eliminate that food, then our food plate would be empty,” said Roger Clemens, a nutrition expert at USC’s pharmacy school.
Where do I stand on this? It’s pretty simple, really. One of those Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs contains a whopping 17 grams of fat, but just a skosh over 10g of protein. They’re also quite low in essential vitamins and minerals and high in sodium. In other words, hot dogs are nutrient-poor “un-foods” that should be shunned by anyone interested in his/her general health, fitness and body composition… the association with colon cancer is simply one more nail in the coffin.
So while I can appreciate the sentiment, I think this lawsuit’s going nowhere…especially after reading this:
There may be arguments for broader health warnings about red meat consumption, but the bigger risk is of heart disease rather than cancer, said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
“Though I favor warning notices in certain circumstances, the overuse of warnings can lead to ‘warning fatigue,’ Jacobson said. “Eating hot dogs occasionally is not by itself worrisome.”
When Michael Jacobsen is the voice of reason on a food-related issue, you know it’s out there.