The Healthier Hot Dog — Not!

April 5, 2012 · 29 comments

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In an article published in Scientific American, writer, Sarah Fecht proclaims that the “structural integrity” of our foods are often made up of unhealthy saturated fats. She reports on the new research that shows how to remove those unhealthy saturated fats from favorites like hot dogs. You will not believe what they think will make them healthier.

A paper entitled, “Mechanical properties of ethylcellulose oleogels and their potential for saturated fat reduction in frankfurters,” was published in the journal Food & Function in March 2012. Researchers, Alexander K. Zetzl ,  Alejandro G. Marangoni and Shai Barbut reported on their method for replacing saturated fats in frankfurters with, who could have guessed, ethylcellulose.

Ethylcellulose has been shown to be an “excellent” organogelator for vegetable oils. It is mixed with vegetable oils such as canola, soybean and flaxseed oil in a 1 to 10 ratio — the ethycellulose 10% and the oils 90%.

I can’t make this up so I’ll quote the authors statement of results:

Cooked frankfurters made with oleogels showed no significant differences in chewiness or hardness compared to the control products made with beef fat. These results provide the first in-depth characterization of ethylcellulose oleogels, and could potentially aid in the design/manufacture of ethylcellulose oleogels with specific textural properties to replace saturated fat in a variety of food products. (My emphasis)

Ethyl cellulose is “generally recognized as safe” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and is commonly used in pharmaceutical capsules and as a food additive in milk products and baked goods.

Cellulose is a natural component of insoluble vegetable fiber. Ethyl cellulose is an indigestible chain of repeating glucose molecules; the only difference is that the hydroxyl groups of ethyl cellulose are modified into ethyl ether groups.

Eating ethylcellulose is a bit more like eating paper. But when it is mixed with a vegetable oil, ethyl cellulose gels form filamentous, fibrous structures around the oil globules. This seems to create a texture and hardness very similar to saturated fat.

The Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food (AFC) on a request from the Commission related to Ethyl Cellulose as a food additive (Question number EFSA-Q-2003-116 adopted on 17 February 2004) evaluated the use of ethylcellulose.

Their conclusions and recommendations shouldn’t surprise you:

The Panel evaluated ethyl cellulose on the basis of the safety data of the whole group of closely related cellulose derivatives. The Panel considers that during the manufacturing process, the steaming and drying steps would remove volatile residues including ethyl chloride. Taking into account the strong hydrophobic character of ethyl cellulose together with its high molecular mass (above 500 kD) the Panel also considers that ethyl cellulose will pass essentially unchanged through the gastrointestinal tract following oral ingestion and that adverse effects are unlikely. The Panel decided to include ethyl cellulose in the group ADI “not specified” for modified celluloses established by the SCF (SCF 1992; SCF 1999).

I don’t know about you but I’m a little concerned about the part that says, “… The Panel also considers that ethyl cellulose will pass essentially unchanged through the gastrointestinal tract following oral ingestion and that adverse effects are unlikely.”

These researchers (and food companies with the blessing of the FDA) are planning on replacing the saturated fat in hot dogs. Saturated fat makes up 1/3 of the item or 7 gms. That is a lot of ethyl cellulose (and rancid GM vegetable oils) — especially if the person eats more than one frank.

I seem to remember when they tried to replace the fat in chips with olestra, causing major intestinal problems such as, vitamin malabsorption and “anal leakage.” Not very pretty.

These folks are clearly indoctrinated with the saturated fat is evil mantra and are determined to find a suitable, artificial, factory made substance that is sure to further along the Big Ag, Big Pharma agenda — Let’s take away all the Real Food and replace it with chemicals so that people will get sick and need doctors and medications.

Excuse the sarcasm but I really take issue with people expounding the health dogma of the USDA as if it were gospel.

Read that Scientific American article and tell me if it doesn’t get under your skin.

I’ll keep my grassfed, dripping with real saturated fat, frankfurters. Thank you very much.

What do you think about this? Leave a comment and let me know!

This post is shared at: Fresh Bites Friday, Freaky Friday, Friday Food, Seasonal Celebration, Sunday School, Melt In Mouth Monday, Monday Mania, Barnyard Hop, Traditional Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday Tidbits, Allergy free Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday, Sustainable Ways, Healthy 2Day, Mommy Club, Full Plate Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Prof. Wurst April 6, 2012 at 3:47 am

Thanks for the photo credit! :-)
Greetings from Innsbruck/Austria,
Prof. Wurst

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2 Jen April 6, 2012 at 8:14 am

Thanks for the very thorough info. Hot dogs have always grossed me out . . .even before I started eating real foods. I may have eaten them at a BBQ but only if they were burnt to a crisp. Weird…I know but it was the only way I could eat ‘em. Even just thinking about them turns my stomach a bit. This post confirms why I hated them so much.

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3 Jill April 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

It seems as if these guys have “history blinders” on. Since when has counterfeit food ever been shown to work out better than the real thing? Are they really unaware that cancer, heart disease, autoimmunity, and other issues related to inflammation and bad nutrition were almost unheard of before the food industry started tampering with what people had been safely (and nutritiously) consuming for thousands of years? I can’t help but agree with you–no one can really be that naive, especially educated policy makers. The most logical explanation would be conspiracy–I hate to even say it because it sounds so “out there”–but why else would they continue to make the types of decisions that have repeated proven to be detrimental in the past? Education is key, and I thank you for doing your part in helping to educate consumers!

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4 Suzanne Shelby April 6, 2012 at 9:48 am

Thank you for giving me one more reason to not let my kids eat those things at birthday parties!!!

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5 Grace April 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm

How do you fight the fat phobia that we have all had indoctrinated into us? I have tried to discuss it with my sister, who is a really, really smart person, and she just couldn’t process it. Her brain just won’t accept the idea that the demonization of animal fats might be b.s. Her kids eat trash, but she thinks she is doing right by them because all of the little plastic containers their food comes in has fat-free or low-fat stamped on it. I just don’t know how to get through the mental blockage.

By the way, we had pastured pork chops for dinner last night (provided by yours truly) and braised chard I grew myself. I just don’t tell them when I give them better-for-you food anymore. They ate it like starving wolverines. It’s probably the first time they’ve had real food that was freshly prepared in months. Did I mention that both kids have really bad food allergies? Ugh!

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6 Jill April 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Hi Grace,
Isn’t it terrible to see people you love being so misinformed by those who supposedly look out for us? It is so frustrating. I just keep repeating myself to those that will listen and hope one day a light bulb goes off.

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7 Lily April 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Everyday I read something that confirms we are living in the twilight zone. The fact that the words oleogels, ethyl cellulose, g.r.a.s., and scientific are part of an article about FOOD is beyond insanity. Why? Why? Why are people wasting their time trying to pick apart and unlock the not so secret secrets of the perfection of nature? Why do we call just about anything that can be chewed and swallowed food? Why are people so disconnected from common sense and from what obviously and naturally goes hand in hand? Structural integrity of a hot dog??? These “brilliant” scientists are making such a fine contribution to the world by figuring out how to make our non food stuffs even more artificial and devoid of nutrients. It would be an absolute waste of their time to use their intelligence and money to do something like….say….find a way to feed starving people in third world countries. This is the twilight zone people. The twilight zone!

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8 Mrs. Z April 7, 2012 at 9:50 am

I think I just threw up in my mouth…sick….

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9 Julie April 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm

ditto……gross….

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10 Bebe April 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I am looking forward to making my own hot dogs some day soon. I really love them but finding a good one without garbage, including nitrites and now cellulose is nigh to impossible. Even Applegate Farms, whose hot dogs are actually really yummy and the right texture with a nice skin pop, uses celery juice which contains naturally occurring nitrites. I buy them once in a while during the summer when we just NEED to put some on a stick and cook them over a campfire!
This new development is just ridiculous and makes a strong argument for avoiding regular dogs. Disgusting.

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11 Beth April 7, 2012 at 10:27 pm

“The Panel considers…that adverse effects are unlikely.” Considers and unlikely – 2 red flags for me. What about testing?

You said: “Ethyl cellulose is “generally recognized as safe” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and is commonly used in pharmaceutical capsules and as a food additive in milk products and baked goods.”

Is Ethyl cellulose even labeled? I don’t remember ever seeing it on milk products. Please tell me it is at least labeled!

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12 Jill April 8, 2012 at 8:16 am

Hi Bet,
There is the 2% rule in labeling laws — if an ingredient is less than 2% of the whole product it does not have to be on the label. The ethyl cellulose may be in an ingredient that is in a product that comes from another manufacturer — so it can also be hidden that way.

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13 farmer_liz April 9, 2012 at 9:26 pm

yep, I’m feeling a little sick after reading that! The only sausages we eat are the ones made from our own beef on our farm in front of our eyes so I know exactly what is in them (plenty of real pastured beef fat too!). I can’t believe what passes for food (and how clever the food industry think they are for coming up with it), but I liked your comment about keeping us sick so there’s plenty of money for healthcare, I totally agree with you.

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14 Jana April 11, 2012 at 10:06 am

Eat fresh people! Can you imagine such a thing??? Thanks for sharing this informative piece. I am blown away. Where is the FDA for crying out loud. They don’t approve medications that they should but they put this garbage out there. Yikes.

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15 Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network April 13, 2012 at 6:47 am

This makes alarming reading and yet another reason, not to buy ready made foods. Very disturbing to learn about the 2% labelling law in the States- probably no different here in the UK!

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16 Amy Carter April 13, 2012 at 10:30 am

How horrid!! I never eat hot dogs any way they just don’t look or taste like food. another thing I have to teach my children to say no to when others offer it.

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17 Kathy LaBarr April 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm

“I’ll keep my grassfed, dripping with real saturated fat, frankfurters. Thank you very much.”
Would you share your recipe for grassfed hotdogs?

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18 Jill April 15, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Hi Kathy,
I get sugar free grassfed hotdogs from US Wellness.

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19 Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry April 16, 2012 at 12:39 am

Thank you so much for sharing such a well-written and informative post on Allergy-Free Wednesdays! Be sure to check back next week for recipe highlights (including the top 3 reader choice submissions and hostess favorites).

Be Well!

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20 Tina S April 18, 2012 at 6:54 pm

My son has just been diagnosed with a myriad of food allergies (at age19!) so I’m just beginning to sort through this whole puzzle of additives, etc. My grandfather lived to be 98 and had fried eggs, bacon or sausage, biscuits, gravy, peaches, and coffee with half and half every morning of his life…starting with his marriage to my grandmother in 1921. He died of natural causes. Can anyone give me advice about meat? Is organic really better? We eat a lot of whole foods anyway but my son has had a weakness for snack junk food which I have not entertained but he has indulged in without me. How can I help him make better food choices? I feel like I’m drowning in all this information!

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