This is why I am so excited about the shift I’ve seen in the cooler section recently. I actually saw chicken hot dogs that are – dare I say –the healthiest I’ve seen! I’ve seen some healthier turkey and even beef options out there too. And I’ve noticed a lot more whole wheat buns, too. The food industry seems to be responding to the steady demand from consumers, public health organizations, and even federal regulations mandating healthier foods in schools.
It is not just me noticing these changes: a recent study in American Journal of Public Health found that sodium levels dropped by about 7% in top selling packaged foods from 2009 to the beginning of 2015. The National Salt Reduction Initiative – a partnership of 100 city and state health authorities and national health organizations – has been working with industry partners to reduce sodium for about 6 years, and it appears to be working. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a big step forward in June 2016 to encourage the food industry to reduce sodium in their products by creating draft voluntary targets for sodium levels.
Unfortunately, at least where I shop, the healthier hot dogs can be more expensive than the traditional high saturated fat, high sodium hot dog. And these healthy versions of convenience foods are not universally available. Although our food supply is far from perfect, I’m hopeful that we are seeing the glimpses of a future where lofty parenting expectations can be closer to reality – at least when it comes to healthy eating. As for my family, we’ll continue to limit hot dogs to no more than once a week – but in the meantime, it’s good to know there are healthier options out there.
- Tons of information: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Salt
- American Journal of Public Health article press release.
- Article on choosing healthier hot dogs: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/nutrition/article/hot-dogs-without-guilt
- National Sodium Reduction Initiative