Bugs and band-aids, maggots and worms, all in Labor Day hot dogs

Maggots, worms, metal, plastic and even a razor were just a few of the objects that horrified callers said were in their hot dogs in complaints lodged with the U.S. Department of Agriculture between 2007 and 2009.

Stephen Rex Brown of The Local East Village filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2009 asking USDA to give up its ‘dirty-dog logs.’ The 64 case files finally came in this week, just in time for the Labor Day holiday.

One report told of a “winged insect that resembled a dragonfly inside the package of hot dogs,” and noted that the insect’s “head, eyes, and wings are visible. Insect is black in color, over 1-inch long.”

In the vast majority of cases, U.S.D.A. investigators determined that the gross-out did not indicate a pattern of neglect at the packing plant, and simply notified the company that handled the hot dog.

But on at least one occasion, even the federal officials in charge of inspecting food became the subjects of an investigation. As one document from June 13, 2008 reveals, a Food Safety Inspection Service employee bit into a rogue hot dog at an “F.S.I.S. Unity Day” cookout in Maryland.

A spokesman for the Hot Dog and Sausage Council, speaking frankly about the matter, said foreign objects in hot dogs were a very rare occurrence, especially given the roughly 20 billion wieners made every year. According to the Council, between Memorial Day and Labor Day — known as “hot dog season” within the industry — roughly 818 hot dogs are consumed every second.