Nitrates in Food Should be Avoided

hotdogs

Did you know that a recent study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia??

Here’s a two part posting about the topic of nitrates in food. First, I was frustrated the other day when a customer I’ve never seen before came in looking for the Natural Balance Rolls of soft food/treat that people often use for training and Kong stuffing. I told him that we didn’t have that particular brand, as that one is preserved with Nitrates. He said “I’m a vet, and I’ve never heard of anything bad about nitrates”.  As I told him about how it was a suspected carcinogen, he cut me off with “do you have sources you can site?” Well I did, but I had a store full of customers and he was in a huge rush. He left without those sources, and without leaving me his e-mail so I could send them later, and I’m sure he left thinking I was an overreacting silly person. However, I feel like if an ingredient is strongly suspected to be carcinogenic, and there are any studies showing evidence to that effect, then I would hope that A) vets might have heard of this before, and B) wouldn’t it be wise to avoid ingredients like these altogether, just in case? I know a lot of things can be carcinogenic, and some of them are out of our control. But food and treat ingredients can be controlled, and there are certainly lots of great alternatives.

There wasn’t time to change his opinion, but it made me think I should address it here on the blog. It also made me think of the fact that I never did write directly to Merrick Pet Foods about the use of nitrates in the treats that we wish we could sell except for the Nitrates (their sausage treats that correspond to the flavors of their great canned food line.) I was pretty disappointed with their response.  Here’s my letter:

“Hello – we’ve told our reps before, but I’m not sure I’ve actually written directly to you about this. I’d just like to say how sad we were to find out that those sausages that you make that correspond with the can flavors are made with nitrates added. We were so excited to learn about them before they came out, and had placed a big ISO, but when we got the ingredient list, we cancelled it. We won’t stock anything in our store that has nitrates, as they combine with amines in meat during the cooking process to form carcinogenic compounds that have been associated with multiple forms of cancers in humans. I got stricter about them when recent studies showed the strong link between
hotdogs with nitrates and leukemia in children.
This is from the cancer prevention coalition:
“Peters et al. studied the relationship between the intake of certain foods and the risk of leukemia in children from birth to age 10 in Los Angeles County between 1980 and 1987. The study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia. A strong risk for childhood leukemia
also existed for those children whose fathers’ intake of hot dogs was 12 or more per month.
Researchers Sarusua and Savitz studied childhood cancer cases in Denver and found that children born to mothers who consumed hot dogs one or more times per week during pregnancy has approximately double the risk of developing brain tumors. Children who ate hot dogs one or more times per week were also at higher risk of brain cancer.

Bunin et al, also found that maternal consumption of hot dogs during pregnancy was associated with an excess risk of childhood brain tumors.”

I really can’t bring these products into my store when I even have the smallest doubt about the safety of nitrate consumption. I know these products are going to be delicious, and that dogs will eat a lot of them! I hope that in the future you’ll consider reformulating these sausages to be naturally preserved, or shrink-wrapped in a way that
would not necessitate nitrate usage for preservation.

Thank you for your other great products”

This was the response that made me think that they didn’t even read my letter closely:


Hello Christine,

Thanks for taking the time to e-mail us and let us know about your concerns. Small amounts of the Sodium Nitrate are intentionally added to Sausages to prevent botulism.  It is in bacon and just about every sliced lunch meat out there along with hot dogs, bologna, etc for this very same reason. This is the only one of our products that contains Sodium Nitrate, and is required for this reason.

I am very sorry for and inconvenience this may have caused.
Merrick Pet Care”

If you like those sausages but are concerned about nitrates, go to http://www.merrickpetcare.com/ and let them know.

If you like hotdogs and bacon but you don’t want to eat nitrates, , check out the delicious turkey hotdogs (and pork bacon) from Applegate Farms.

Fun video with some great dog training

Check out this great dog show video. There are some fun ideas in here for new tricks you can train (I always love the weaving through peoples’ legs, or jumping through a hoop you make with your arms), or it’s just a fun thing to watch!

Wrapping up the Hummingbird posts

Thanks dog and cat folks for tuning in to our hummingbird news!

Looking very crowded on Saturday

Looking very crowded on Saturday

We wrapped up the season with a little drama. On August 1st we had our annual Fremont Fest celebration, which means the courtyard was crowded and noisy – live music seemed to make the babies even more restless than they had already been – one baby was already stretching up a bit, and looking antsy the day before. While the music was pumping, the chicks were really shifting around – I was nervous that they were going to make a break for it and wind up on the pavement. Well, the next day we came in to work and heard the distinct cheeping vocalization that the chicks only seem to make once they have left the nest. That little guy was really cheeping. I finally got a moment to break away and look for the fledgling, but it took me quite a bit of time to find it. One reason is that those contact calls are designed to be hard for predators to locate the source – everywhere you stand it seems to be coming from a different direction. The other reason was that the baby was on the edge of the planter- a foot above the ground, right over a big drain. Mom flew in and was obviously a bit distressed about the situation herself, but I didn’t want to interfere. We put our sandwich board in a spot that would block dogs/kids from coming too close, but then I started thinking about that drain… Pretty soon mom left to gather food, and I took the opportunity to scoop up the baby and run it upstairs, where I deposited it into a balcony planter that’s only a few feet from the nest.  I’ve handled wuite a few birds, and even a few hummingbirds in the past (I was a zookeeper and I’ve also been lucky enough to be part of a number of bird banding projects) but it was funny to hold that baby, even for a moment – there was hardly anything to him. Light as air. It stayed in the planter for 20 or so minutes before launching itself towards the bamboo where it pretty much crash landed into the branches and luckily stayed there. Then, an hour later, there it was again but this time right on the ground. So, I scooped it up again (when mom wasn’t looking) and ran it back upstairs. This time he flew into the bamboo and stayed there. Whew!

Then the 2nd baby really wanted out of there too.

standing on edge of nest

standing on edge of nest

soon to go

soon to go

looks bigger than mom due to still having some fluff

looks bigger than mom due to still having some fluff

maybe have a little something to eat before I go

maybe have a little something to eat before I go

By Monday they were both out and doing just fine

Note: my photo won’t publish. Check back in a day or so to see both babies on a branch.

Hot Little Hummingbirds

Portland’s having a really hot week – it’s 106 degrees right now, and it might even get a bit higher. Mom and both the babies are staying very still, open-mouthed breathing. I’d do anything to get them some water, but it doesn’t seem very possible. I’ll have to trust that they’ll do as well as the last batch did in that terrible lashing storm.

hot2

for anyone keeping track, they are 17 and 16 days old, respectively. They will fledge around day 23

hot babies have to open mouth breath

hot babies have to open mouth breath

Starting to Get a Little Crowded

7/22/09 -  9 days old - filling up the nest

7/22/09 - 9 days old - filling up the nest

One interesting thing I noticed – on Saturday the 18th, one of the babies from the last brood showed back up and spent the day in the courtyard. All day long I heard him hopefully begging from mom (each time she left the nest or returned he’d vocalize like he used to) It was a busy day in the store, so I couldn’t watch too much and so have no idea if at some point during the day she relented and fed him, but the few times I saw them near each other she wasn’t acknowledging him. She didn’t chase him off either though. Wonder if he’s finding the big world harder than he thought. Guess it’s always worth asking mom for a handout.

Check out this amazing link about how incredibly fast the male Anna’s Hummingbird’s dive is during his mating display:
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/44531/title/Hummingbird_pulls_Top_Gun_stunts

Newest Hatchlings! (Anna’s Hummingbird babies)

tiny eggshells

tiny eggshells

If you haven’t been following along, we’ve had an eventful spring filled with lovely hummingbird babies hatching right outside our door. This is the second nest this season that she’s had in our courtyard. How lucky we are! See older posts for the first nest photos.

Mon July 13th – 1st egg hatched
Tues July 14th – 2nd egg hatched – tiny eggshells discarded from the nest
Now that the last babies have officially flown the coop, she can dedicate herself to feeding these babies (incredible weight gain noticeable each day – they grow so very quickly!)

Wed July 15 - two babies at a hard angle to see

Wed July 15 - two babies at a hard angle to see

betterview1
mom feeds baby#1

mom feeds baby#1

mom feeds baby#2

mom feeds baby#2