Last Sunday, on the rare occasion that I get to watch TV, I caught this gem of a commercial. It’s probably been around for quite awhile but either being vegan gives me instant blinders from such material or I’ve been living under a rock.
Oh, where do I even begin? This commercial made me laugh and cry at the same time. Let me sum up my feelings in 280 characters or less.
What this company is doing is called HEALTHWASHING. Shame on you, Century 😦
Healthwashing – what is it? This is when a product, typically food, is marketed as healthier than it actually is, with references in advertisements and on packaging to health-boosting ingredients such as vitamins, antioxidants, and probiotics. Companies and groups position themselves as leaders in the crusade forward to good health while engaging in practices that may be contributing to our poor health. (source)
tuna = healthy
Century Tuna hotdog = healthy
Thank God it’s made with real tuna, right? That really makes the hotdog healthy, right? Right??
Let’s check the ingredients label, if you please.
Apologies for the bad photography. The label reads: chicken and tuna, palm olein, water, sugar, vegetable protein, iodized salt, whey, seasonings, spices, phosphates, sodium nitrite, sodium erythorbate, artificial coloring from casing, and taurine.
According to law, ingredients labels must list ingredients according to amounts. That is, the ingredient that is used the most should come first while the ingredient with the least amount in the product should be listed last. Okay, let us begin:
Apparently there is more chicken than tuna in this hotdog. Hmm. So why is it called tuna hotdog? Why not chicken hotdog? Or chicken and tuna hotdog? Century Tuna markets the ‘dog as “tuna hotdog” because tuna sounds cleaner than chicken. You can splash “with omega 3!” on the label. Actually, I wasn’t going to touch on chicken much, but it is actually the dirtiest of meats. Yes, more than pork and beef. One study showed that more than 40% of chicken samples contained bacteria including E. Coli. Don’t get me started on chicken factory farms, either.
Palm olein may sound fine and dandy, but this is really a nice-sounding term for fractionated palm oil – palm oil that is processed and split into palm stearin (solid at room temp) and palm olein (liquid at room temp). Is it healthy? I was taught in cooking school that minimally processed oil was better than industrialized oil. We used coconut oil a lot more than canola, because canola was a processed industrial oil. Palm olein? Industrially processed. Boo.
Whey – what’s the problem with this guy? Little Miss Muffet enjoyed eating it. But why should we beware the whey? Symptoms including gas, bloating, cramps, weakness, headaches, etc. can be attributed to this dairy-derived ingredient.
Seasonings and spices. Hmmm, so sneaky, Century Tuna. This could mean anything – for example, black pepper and vinegar. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) would fall under this, too. Anything cooked in a lab (read: artificial) would also be considered. MSG symptoms include headaches, facial pressure or tightness, numbness, and heart palpitations. Are you still eating the ‘dog?
Phosphates. A common ingredient in processed food, it has been shown to be linked in the increase of ADD and ADHD in children. Consuming too much phosphate can lead to mineral deficiencies affecting the nervous system.
Sodium nitrite. A typical ingredient in cured meat to delay the development of botulinal toxin, retards rancidity, and preserves flavor. When a nitrite-containing meat product is cooked, nitrites combine with amines naturally present in the meat to form carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds. Kids who eat three or more hotdogs a week have a higher than normal rate of leukemia. Pregnant? Nitrites can increase the risk of brain tumors in babies, woohoo (sourced here and here). And we all know that too much sodium can raise blood pressure, deplete calcium from bones, and get you all bloaty bloaty. Frequent consumption of nitrites = chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a form of lung disease.
Sodium erythorbate. This is used to get hotdogs to look nice and pink. Side effects include lightheadedness, hemolysis (red blood cell rapture that leads to anemia), gastritis, heartburn, and kidney stones.
Artificial coloring from casing. Nuff said. Since the label doesn’t tell much about what kind of artificial coloring was used in the hotdog, just heed this: most artificial flavorings are petroleum-derived and have been shown to affect RNA (ribonucleic acid, related to DNA), thyroid, and enzymes. Most have never been studied for safety or toxicity. This has also been linked to behavioural problems in children.
Wow, Century Tuna you’re really on a health roll!
Mmm! You can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll get your Omega 3 fix from this, with a side of cancer and a dollop of attention deficit disorder.
Century tuna hotdogs: smart, fit, and healthy? I think not.
Oh wait a minute. How much Omega 3’s does one serving of this product have? Is it seriously worth the hype?
A required daily allowance of Omega 3’s does not currently exist but let me tell you what has more Omega 3’s than this damn ‘dog.
Actual canned tuna in brine, 6 oz: 460 mg
Flax seeds, 1 oz: 6,388 mg
Chia seeds, 1 oz: 4,915 mg
Walnuts, 1 oz: 2,542 mg
Romaine lettuce, 1 head: 707 mg
Tofu, 1/4 of 300 g block: 471 mg
Spinach, raw, 1 bunch (340 g): 469 mg
Lentils, raw, 1 cup: 209 mg
Chickpeas, raw, 1 cup: 202 mg
Soy milk, 1 cup: 200 mg
Oats, 1 cup: 173 mg
Arugula, raw, 100 g: 170 mg
Are you still with me?
There are ethical, environmental, and health problems with eating seafood in general and tuna in particular… If you’d like more detailed explanations, check these out.
Moral of the story? A hotdog by any other name is still a hotdog. We often think that this is the golden age of being a consumer — so many varieties of products to choose from, for whatever we please!
But at the end of the day…