Frankfurters get a bad rap for being unhealthy, and for many reasons. They are laden with preservatives, flavorings, colorings, and god-knows-what other chemicals. But admit it, it’s hard to resist not eating them once they are cooked. The sausage’s firm texture and meaty taste just seem to invite a bite.

So, for the many of us, the solution is not to X out hotdogs completely from our diet, but rather to limit our consumption and be choosy with what type of frankfurter we eat. This leads us to the question: Which is healthier, red hot dogs or brown hot dogs?

Let us take a look at the ingredients used in red hot dogs and brown hot dogs according the Scientific American blog.

  • Mechanically separated turkey – Forget poultry meat, this product is made of poultry bones (with attached edible tissue) forced to a sieve or similar device under high pressure to produce a paste-like and batter-like poultry product, according to the USDA.
  • Pork – Now, at least you can be assured that you’re really getting pork meat – that is, without smashed bones – as per 1994 USDA rules.
  • Water – All hot dogs are added with less than 10% water to create that paste-like consistency.

    Hot dogs are mouth watering and delicious, but be careful of its health risks / PicHelp
    Hot dogs are mouth watering and delicious, but be careful of its health risks / PicHelp
  • Corn Syrup – Not to be mistaken with high-fructose corn syrup, which is linked to some health concerns, this ingredient adds texture and sweetness to hot dogs.
  • Salt – Frankfurters contain about 20 percent salt as per the recommended daily allowance.
  • Potassium lactate – A popular meat preservative because of its capability to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Sodium phosphates – Usually added to add texture and sometimes as a food preservative.
  • Beef stock – Muscles, bones, joints, connective tissues and other parts are boiled with water to make hot dog taste meatier.
  • Sodium diacetate This is used to help fight fungus and bacterial growth.
  • Maltodextrin – This compound is made from cooked starch and is used as a thickening agent in hotdogs.

Red hot dogs and brown hot dogs use the same ingredient, so you can say that health-wise, they’re basically the same. However, there’s one ingredient that makes the former less “healthier”. Sodium erythorbate. This is commonly used in red hot dogs to keep meat products pink. Health studies associate it with some side effects like gastrointestinal problem, dizziness and headache. If consumed in large amount, sodium erythorbate can cause kidney stones.


Red or brown, excessive hotdog consumption is not healthy. Carolyn Brown, a registered dietician and nutritionist at New York-based Foodtrainers, told that consumers should go for hot dogs with less than 150 calories, fewer than 14 grams of fat, no more than 450 milligrams of salt.