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Kraft Foods Recalls Weiners That Can Pose Life-Threatening Health Risks For Some

Cheese filled hot dogs mistakenly sold as classic Oscar Mayer Weiners could have serious consequences for those with milk allergies and lactose intolerance.
 
 
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Those with milk allergies and the lactose intolerant beware: Your hot dogs may actually be cheese dogs.

Kraft Foods mislabeled 96,000 pounds of its top-selling Oscar Mayer Weiners because the company improperly packaged its “Classic Cheese Dogs” as plain hot dogs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the product labels do not reflect the ingredients associated with the milk-based cheese product found in the hot dogs.

If this doesn't sound that serious to you, it actually is. There are people — believed to be a about 2.5% of the population, mostly infants and toddlers — who have true milk allergies (notably to S1-casein, a protein found in milk) that can cause serious, even deadly reactions. It can involve anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Other typical reactions of this allergy involve hives and vomiting. Not all people outgrow their milk allergy as they mature from infancy. While people with milk allergies can consume some products where the milk has been heated to high temperatures (such as in baked goods), they must avoid, butter, cheese, cheese creams, cream, custards, milk, yogurt, ice cream, and pudding.

Moreover, up to 70% of the population is “lactose intolerant,” meaning that they cannot properly digest the lactose found in milk products, and the undigested sugars end up in the colon, where they begin to ferment, producing gas that can cause cramping, bloating, nausea, flatulence and diarrhea.

Lactose intolerance is so prevalent, in fact, that research scientists are beginning to insist that this is normal, and the ability to properly digest lactose is actually abnormal. There has been a lot of recent research to suggest that only a genetic mutation allows a subset of humans to properly digest milk products.

Milk allergy and lactose intolerance are not related.

The mislabeling was discovered by a consumer who called Kraft Foods last week. In turn, the corporation alerted the USDA, which says that there have been no adverse reactions reported so far.  

Cliff Weathers is a senior editor at AlterNet, covering environmental and consumer issues. He is a former deputy editor at Consumer Reports. His work has also appeared in Salon, Car and Driver, Playboy, and Detroit Monthly among other publications. Follow him on Twitter @cliffweathers and on Facebook.

 
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