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Hot Dogs Strike Out at All-Star Game and in New Jersey

“Warning: Hot Dogs Can Strike You Out—For Good.” That's the message thousands of baseball fans saw on the Cancer Project’s provocative highway billboard as they flocked to the 2009 All-Star Game. Days later, the nonprofit filed a lawsuit in New Jersey asking hot dog manufacturers for a similar warning on product packaging.

The 48-foot-wide digital billboard posted outside Busch Stadium in St. Louis featured an image of hot dogs jammed into a cigarette pack labeled “Unlucky Strike.” The billboard is part of a campaign to persuade Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig to put a “dietary disaster” warning label on hot dogs served at Busch Stadium and other Major League Baseball stadiums because processed meats have been convincingly linked to colorectal cancer.

“Baseball stadiums need to be frank about the cancer risk posed by hot dogs and other processed meats,” says Krista Haynes, R.D., a dietitian for the Cancer Project, an affiliate of PCRM. “Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer. Like cigarettes, hot dogs should come with a warning label that helps baseball fans and other consumers understand the health risk.”

Ballparks expected to sell 21 million hot dogs this season, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council’s 2009 survey of hot dog and sausage consumption at major league ballparks in the United States.

In 2007, the American Institute for Cancer Research published a landmark report showing that just one 50-gram serving of processed meat (about the amount in one hot dog) consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer, on average, by 21 percent. Every year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 50,000 die of it.

Nationwide, dozens of newspapers, TV and radio stations, and blogs covered the billboard. Even Rush Limbaugh posed with the billboard and discussed it on his show.

But the billboard wasn’t the Cancer Project’s only strike against hot dogs. On July 22, the organization filed a class-action consumer fraud lawsuit on behalf of three New Jersey residents. They are suing Nathan’s Famous, Kraft Foods/Oscar Mayer, Sara Lee, ConAgra Foods, and Marathon Enterprises for failing to warn consumers that hot dogs increase the danger of colorectal cancer.

The suit—featured on more than 200 TV news stories and in Newark’s The Star-Ledger—asks 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.”

To learn more about the hot dog lawsuit and the risks of eating processed meats, visit


PCRM Online, August 2009

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