A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed last July against several hotdog makers by vegan advocacy group Cancer Project that claimed hotdogs should carry a cancer warning label.
The Cancer Project, an affiliate of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said it was acting on behalf of three New Jersey residents and filed a class-action consumer fraud lawsuit, arguing that hotdogs should carry the following label: “Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer", after several studies linked the consumption of processed meat with higher cancer risk.
The five companies that were sued at the Essex County Superior Court were Nathan’s Famous, Kraft Foods/Oscar Mayer, Sara Lee, Con Agra Foods, and Marathon Enterprises.
But Judge Jose Linares granted the hotdog makers’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which they filed on March 18.
The American Meat Institute (AMI) had dubbed the suit “a frivolous nuisance” and said consumers should be made more aware of the “anti-meat agenda” of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
AMI president J. Patrick Boyle said: "We are pleased that the court moved quickly and dismissed this lawsuit, recognizing it for the nuisance that it is. Meat products are regulated and inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture and bear the federal government's seal of inspection, showing they are wholesome and nutritious.”
When the lawsuit was filed in July, president of the Cancer Project Neal Barnard said: "Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer. Companies that sell hot dogs are well aware of the danger, and their customers deserve the same information."
Studies that have linked processed meat with cancer risk have often focused on nitrates and nitrites which are used as preservatives. But these also occur naturally in fruits and vegetables, and recent studies have even linked the much maligned additives to improved cardiovascular health.
However, the Cancer Project cited a report from the American Institute for Cancer Research which claimed that a daily 50-gram serving of processed meat – about the amount in one hot dog – consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by an average of 21 percent.
“The nitrites often used as a preservative can produce compounds that are suspected carcinogens. The bottom line is that science has tied processed meat consumption to increased cancer risk. That’s why hot dogs should be avoided,” the organization said.
However, other scientific reviews, including one from Harvard University in 2004 that examined 14 previous studies, have not found the same link.