Hot Diggity Dog!

Image of the Month: July 2014
Hot Diggity Dog!

The 4th of July is right around the corner and many of us will be enjoying an American tradition of eating hot dogs. Since everyone else will be enjoying them, we figured we should too!  That is why we scanned a hot dog and bun in our SkyScan 1173 system.

The origin of hot dogs is debated in the U.S. but rumor has it that they became popular from a German immigrant that sold them from a cart in New York City.  Over time, their popularity grew through Coney Island restaurants and baseball stadiums.  The first hot dog was sold in baseball parks in 1893 and so began the love affair of Ball Park® Franks. The name Franks refers their origin from Frankfurt Germany.

0714 hot dog
Figure 1. Hot Dog scanned on the SkyScan 1173 system.

Let’s get technical with a hot dog and see what really goes into making this American favorite.  To start, beef, pork, or poultry is ground or cut into small pieces.  The pieces are then mixed with water, spices and other ingredients such as preservatives to create a batter.  The United States Department of Agriculture regulates the batter components and the rules state that no more that 30% can be fat, 10% water, and 3.5% non-meat binders. All remainders are actual meat.

Continuing the process, casings are automatically filled with the batter, pinched at equal intervals, and sent to the smokehouse.  After the smokehouse, they are fully cooked. Cool water is used to bring their temperature down and casings removed (unless they are natural casings).  Finally, they are packaged and shipped out for you to enjoy!

Click here to see our YouTube video of the hot dog. You will notice during the cut-away that there are higher density white specs throughout the hot dog. We were curious as to how much are actually there and to guess what they might be.  Using our CTAn analysis software the total volume of the hot dog thresholded and volume determined.  Then, the higher density white specs were thresholded and their volume determined along with percentage (see Figure 2 for analysis images used for volume calculations). Analysis revealed the total volume of the hot dog to be 38517.9 cubic millimeters and white specs to be 857.1 cubic millimeters.  This means that the white specs attribute to 2.2% of the total hot dog volume. Our guess is that the white specs are part of the non-meat binders or spices. What is your guess? Feel free to post in the comments section below.

Ctan of hot dog
Figure 2. Analysis of white specs in hot dog. Original CT image (top-left), threshold of entire hot dog (top-right), and threshold of white specs (bottom-middle).

References:

  1. http://www.hot-dog.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/91705
  2. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/6862410d-e659-41ee-82c7-6eae60708c11/Hot_Dogs_and_Food_Safety.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

Scan Specifications:

System
SkyScan 1173 Micro-CT

Voltage
80kV

Current
100µA

Pixel Size
71.3um

Scan Time
01:31:39

Software
NRecon, DataViewer, CTvox, CTAn

Location
Micro Photonics Imaging Laboratory, Allentown, PA

Courtesy of
Brandon Walters, Micro Photonics, Laboratory Manager

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