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Hot dog! Consumers want to know how the sausage is made

I am all about transparency. I have said for years that the agriculture industry should be run like a Subway shop. Let me see how my food is being made and let me have a say in how its made.

But how far can this transparency idea go. What is the limit? Well, I think we’ve found it.

For years I have enjoyed, as millions of other Americans have, a hot dog right off of the grill, nestled in a bun and doused with ketchup and mustard. If you are a bit adventurous maybe add some relish and if that doesn’t faze you put a little chili on that puppy! But, for please don’t tell me what is in that thing!

As a kid, I didn’t care what the ingredients of a hot dog were. I ran as fast as I could after every T-ball game to get that delicious reward. Sometimes Mom wondered if that was the only reason I played. I am still a better eater than an athlete.

Then as I got older, Dad and Grandpa were pretty forthright about the ingredients of that juicy dog and even though I knew they weren’t kidding about the “scraps” that make up the frankfurter, I still would scarf them down at cookouts or bonfires.

Now that I am an adult, I know what questions not to ask. I am well aware that bologna, spam, hot dogs, sausage and other cuts of meat that I have a hankering for don’t look the way they do on my sandwich when they are first being melded together into a wide variety of shapes and colors and I am okay with that. As the adage goes, no one wants to know how the sausage is made…or do they?

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (yes there is such a thing) recently unveiled the Hot Dog Ingredients Guide to provide consumers with more information and transparency. The guide details the role each ingredient may play in a hot dog and is searchable to allow users to easily find ingredients they see listed on their favorite package of hot dogs. Council spokesperson Eric Mittenthal says “as consumers seek more information about their food, the guide will be a helpful tool to better understand hot dogs and how they are made.” The guide also includes descriptions of common terms consumers might find on packages such as uncured, natural casing, hormone free or organic.

Is this it? Have we opened up every Pandora’s box of American Agriculture? What else is there?

I worry not about myself, but about those that may be taken aback by what may be part of their masterful meatloaf of pork, chicken and whatever else may be stuffed into that casing.

Will anyone ever again wish to be an Oscar Mayer Wiener? Will Joey Chesnutt withdrawal from the 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest because he just can’t fathom the thought of woofing down just one more? Will hot dog mascots never suit up for a semi-hilarious race around the bases on the basis of what really may be inside that costume?

I am all about transparency in food production, but for the love of all things good and Holy don’t ruin a perfectly bad thing. Some things need to be left to the imagination or just not thought about at all.

By the way, you can find the guide online at http://www.hot-dog.org/, but do so at your own risk.

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