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Group Pushes for Cancer Warnings on Hot Dogs

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“Warning: May Cause Cancer” is a notice you would expect to see on a pack of cigarettes, not a pack of hot dogs. But consumers may one day see the admonition starring them in the face when biting into one of these American food favorites—that is, if The Cancer Project gets its way.

The nonprofit filed a lawsuit yesterday in a New Jersey Supreme Court in an effort to force hot dog producing companies—including ConAgra, Kraft Foods, and Nathan’s Famous—to print cancer-risk warning labels on hot dog packages sold in the Garden State. The suit was filed on behalf of state residents John O’Donnell, Ruthann Hilland and Michelle DeScisciolo who had purchased hot dogs made by the companies without having been aware of the scientific correlation between eating processed meats and colorectal cancer.

The Cancer Project backs is claim with research from the American Institute for Cancer Research, which found that eating 50 grams of processed meat a day can increase an individual’s cancer risk by 21 percent.

"Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer," said Cancer Project President Neal Barnard, M.D. in a statement. He added that hot dog makers have been aware of the potential dangers and need to inform consumers of these risks.

The Cancer Project’s Web site touts the group’s anti-hot dog stance. The homepage features an image of hot dogs in ‘Unlucky Strike’-branded cigarette packaging. The warning label reads, “Warning: Hot dogs can strike you out for good.” Earlier this month, the image caused hype when the ad was displayed on a highway billboard in St. Louis, where Pres. Obama threw the opening ball for this year’s All-Star game at Busch Stadium.