A hot dog billboard is causing a wave of controversy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR fans who show up for the races will now see a billboard featuring hot dogs in a cigarette pack logo’d with a skull and crossbones and the words “Warning: Hot Dogs Can WRECK Your Health”. The website on the billboard directs you to www.CancerProject.org, but the warning isn’t just for hot dogs.
The billboard was sponsored by the Cancer Project of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group that has long advocated to change the diets of humans to vegan diets.
Nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. for PCRM says that the warning is apt, “A hot dog a day could send you to an early grave. Processed meats like hot dogs can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and various types of cancer. Like cigarettes, hot dogs should come with a warning label that helps racing fans and other consumers understand the health risk.”
However, the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council believes the billboard is alarmist and just a ruse for PCRM to push their agenda.
Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, told CBS News, “This is an absurd claim. Trying to link a food product that has clear nutritional value with a product like cigarettes, which have no redeeming qualities, is inflammatory and alarmist.” She also claimed that the billboard was another ploy by the group to remove meat from the diets of American people. She tells CBS, “This is an animal rights group that wants to take away your choices.”
PCRM wants to make clear that it is not just hot dogs that they are claiming will cause cancer, heart disease and a number of other ailments but processed meat in general. The group claims that 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 and cites the American Institute for Cancer Research. It should be noted that at least one former nutritionist for AICR is the senior nutrition scientist and nutrition director of PCRM.
According to the CBS report, Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine said in an email, “We’ve had an epidemic of colorectal cancer for decades. Only fairly recently has it become clear that a big part of the reason is the American appetite for hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and other processed meats.”
What are your thoughts? Is the dog billboard in poor taste or do hot dogs deserve to be linked to cigarettes and cancer?