When is a Hot Dog not a Hot Dog?

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When is a hot dog not a hot dog?

When it doesn’t include nitrates, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Father of two and Toronto entrepreneur Matthew von Teichman found that out the hard way when his company, Life Choices, began the packaging approval process for its healthy, nitrate-free wiener.

“They said the definition of a hot dog was that it contained sodium nitrate,” says Matthew. “We used celery salt and green tea extract, both naturally occurring nitrites, to cure our product.” That label wasn’t the only snag. Life Choices’ hotdogs use only beef shoulder and hip cuts. “We wanted to say ‘Prime Cuts Only’ on our package, but the CFIA said that making that claim would imply that other manufacturers DIDN’T use prime cuts.” Duh.

In the end, the CFIA allowed the claims, and this November Life Choices began selling their hotdog in grocery stores across Canada. True, they are more expensive and don’t last as long as other brands, but for parents who are keen to improve their children’s nutrition, the dogs are a welcome addition to the refrigerator. They’re also the latest in line of kid-friendly, organic products, which includes meatballs made from grass-fed, free-range beef.

At Grandview Farms near Collingwood, Ont., Life Choices’ cattle feed on rye and clover and flax seed. They are ‘finished’ with a diet of apples, which sweetens the taste of the beef. Unlike the recent revelations in documentaries such as Food Inc., that the typical hamburger is made up of hundreds if not thousands of different cattle, a package of Life Choices’ meatballs only includes five at the most, says Matthew.

Matthew launched Life Choices when his wife first announced she was pregnant and she wanted to put only healthy food into her body. With his kids now eight and five, the goal of creating healthy food that kids want to eat is still a priority. It’s just a little bit easier with live-in taste-testers!

Published in November 2010.

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