Three New Jersey residents are filing a class action lawsuit to force the makers of Nathan's, Oscar Mayer, Ball Park, Hebrew National and Sabrett franks to put warning labels on their hot dog packaging—not "WARNING: Hot dogs are revolting flesh tubes packed with lips and assholes," but "WARNING: Hot dogs increase the risk of cancer." A lawyer for the plaintiffs tells the Star-Ledger, "We view this just like the tobacco litigation. There is now a scientific consensus that processed meats are a significant cause of colorectal and other forms of cancer."
The nonprofit Cancer Project, a vegan advocacy group that's filing the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs, points to a 2007 American Institute for Cancer Research report: Based on 58 scientific studies, it concludes that the daily consumption of one 50-gram serving of processed meat (about the amount in a single hot dog) increases the risk of colorectal cancer, on average, by 21 percent. About 50,000 people die each year from colorectal cancer. Of course, the American Meat Institute and the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council point to contradictory studies, like a 2004 federally funded Harvard School of Public Health study finding no link between meat and colon cancer.
The wiener industry was quick to dismiss the Cancer Project as a scary "radical" animal rights group, and a spokesperson says, "Their solution to every possible illness is vegetarianism. Their objective is to end meat consumption, period." The lawsuit asserts that processed meat contains carcinogens such as N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, which doesn't occur naturally in food. In 1987, California listed NDMA as a human carcinogen, and the plaintiffs are accusing the hot dog companies of fraud for omitting information about their products' "known risks." They also want warning labels just like cigarette packaging, which could mean we'll one day be buying tax-free hot dogs from Indian reservations.