Questionable Meat Items
Include canned meat, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, and cold cuts such as salami, bologna, dutch loaf, souse, head cheese, summer sausage, pimento loaf, liverworst, and olive loaf to name a few cold cuts (also called "lunch meat"). These are "processed" meats; they are---unquestionably---the worst meat products you can eat.
The reason is because processed meat products are not
made from the same cuts of fresh beef, pork, lamb, or veal we see in our store's meat case. From the Columbia University Press we learn "The brains, snout, ears, jowls, tail and tongue are ground up and often used in combination with other meat products." Processed meat products also contain chemical additives, including sodium or sodium compounds. Most contain trans-fats, the most harmful
of all fats!
Lower grades of fresh meat---such as utility grade pork, cutter grade and canner grade beef, and utility grade and cull grade lamb---which the USDA does not permit to be sold in retail food markets as fresh meat---are combined with other ingredients (including organ meat such as heart, liver and kidney) for use in some "processed" meat products.
Here's what the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) tells us about hot dogs (one kind of "processed" meat): "They can be made from beef, pork, turkey or chicken---the label must state which...The standard also requires that they be comminuted (reduced to minute particles), semisolid products made from one or more kinds of raw skeletal muscle from livestock (like beef or pork) and may contain poultry meat...The finished products may not contain more than 30 % fat or no more10 % water, or a combination of 40 % fat and added water. Up to 3.5 % non-meat binders and extenders (such as nonfat dry milk, cereal or dried whole milk) or 2 % isolated soy protein may be used...Turkey Franks or Chicken Franks can contain turkey or chicken or chicken skin and fat in proportion to a turkey or chicken carcass."
Do hot dogs seem like something you would want
to eat---once you know
what they are made from?
Here's what the USDA does not allow in "Fresh Pork Sausages - no more than 50 % fat by weight, Breakfast Sausages - no more than 50 % fat by weight, Whole Hog Sausage - no more than 50 % fat by weight." These are processed meat items. Is it a good idea to eat anything that can be one-half fat?
Here is what Dr.Joseph Mercola, op. cit., says about McDonald's McRib sandwich:
"McDonald's seasonally-available McRib sandwich contains more than 70 ingredients, including a chemical used in gym shoes and other items requiring a rubbery substance. And the pork is actually a restructured meat product made from the less expensive innards and scraps from the pig."
TIME (June 29, 2015) reports that "MCRIB Nixed from McDonald's national menu at least four times, it occasionally
returns to participating restaurants."
"Chicken Nuggets" - a sad commentary about this fast-food item that is NOT all chicken: TIME
magazine (Oct. 21, 2013) noted the "Actual amount of chicken meat in
chicken nuggets from two major fast-food chains, according to a peer-reviewed study published in the American Journal of Medicine, is only 50% chicken." One has to wonder what's in the other 50%.
Here's what a trip to the supermarket tells us about some of the ingredients in processed meat products: One brand of canned meat contained 790 mg sodium, 4 mg cholesterol, and
6g saturated fat per serving. One brand of canned sausage contained 410 mg sodium, 4 mg cholesterol, and 4g saturated
fat per serving. One brand of canned corned beef contained 450 mg sodium, 50 mg cholesterol, and 3g saturated fat per serving. One can of potted meat contained 560 mg sodium, 65 mg cholesterol, and 3g saturated fat per serving. One can of deviled ham contained 4 mg sodium, 35 mg cholesterol, and 3.5g saturated fat per serving.
One can of beef stew was labeled "preservative free"---but contained 970 mg sodium per serving. One package of dried beef was labeled "fat free"---but contained salt, sugar, sorbitol, sodium erythorbate, and sodium nitrite (but no fat).
One package of pepperoni contained 490 mg sodium and 6g saturated fat per serving. One package of kielbasa contained 510 mg sodium, and 8g fat per serving. One package of smoked sausage contained 510 mg sodium, and 6g of fat per serving. One brand of summer sausage contained 710 mg sodium, 4 mg cholesterol, and 6g saturated fat per serving.
Now, if you think about it, the above numbers are deceiving
because the consumer is actually getting much more sodium, fat, and cholesterol in these processed food items than the labels state. Here's why:
I have in front of me a 5 oz. can of smoked sausage. The label states it has 470g sodium, 7g fat, and 35 mg cholesterol per serving---and that there are two servings in the can. However, there are not two servings in a 5 oz. can---just one serving. So, in reality, that can of processed lunch meat contains 940g Sodium, 14g fat, and 70 mg cholesterol in one serving.
Another example: I have a 5 oz. can of vienna sausage on my desk. The label states it has 260 mg sodium, 12g fat, and 40 mg cholesterol per serving---and there are 2.5 servings in that small can. However, I fail to understand how anyone could get 2 and 1/2 servings out of a 5 oz. can. In reality, that small 5 oz. can of processed lunch meat contains 650 mg sodium, 30g fat, and 100 mg cholesterol in one serving.
Why all the sodium, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, and other sodium compounds in processed meat products? A good question. Here's the answer: Almost all processed meat products look red in color. But it's not the same natural red color of fresh beef. The red color in processed meat products is due to the addition of sodium or sodium products.
Without added sodium or sodium compounds processed meat products would be brown or gray in color---and look unappetizing to prospective purchasers. The only processed meat items this reporter noticed in the supermarket meat case that were not red were some packages of sausages.
The second reason for using sodium and sodium compounds in processed meat products is to prevent botulism, which is food poisoning caused by a bacteria sometimes found in improperly canned or preserved foods.
Now, what are the dangers of the sodium, cholesterol,
and saturated fat in processed meat?
Sodium. The Harvard Medical School tells us too much sodium "can increase blood pressure and make the kidneys work harder. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke, heart
attack, heart failure, kidney disease, and more."
Cholesterol. On sharecare, Dr. Oz answered the question of "What are the health risks of processed meats?" by stating
"Processed meats such as cold cuts, bacon, sausages, and hot dogs contain nitrates, chemical additives that preserve freshness. Nitrates have been linked to stomach cancer and other degenerative diseases. These fatty meat products also are full of unhealthy saturated fat that can raise levels of 'bad' LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease and strokes."
Saturated Fat. The American Heart Association tells us "Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol (ed. note: LDL is called "bad" cholesterol) in your blood increases
your risk of heart disease and stroke."
Time magazine (Nov. 9, 2015) reports on "How processed meat can lead to cancer. Meat that's been smoked, salted, cured or changed by another process to enhance its flavor or make it last longer is what has health experts especially worried."
Time notes that "some processed meats" are "hot dogs,
packaged turkey, sausages, corned beef, pepperoni, beef jerky, canned meat, chicken nuggets, bologna & charcuterie."
Commenting on the Oct. 26, 2015 announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO), op. cit., Time tells us "the WHO officially identified processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning the quality of the evidence firmly links it to cancer. Red meats fare a little better, falling into Group 2A---foods or substances that probably cause cancer..."
This comprehensive Time article, by Jeffrey Kluger and other reporters, wisely states "The fact is, lots of things are bad for us. Ultimately, it's about taking the best information and using it to make smart choices."
Next - The Five Worst Foods