Grape Residues as a Nutrition Booster for Hot Dogs?

Let’s face it: even though they may be tasty, hot dogs (a.k.a., frankfurters, wieners, etc) are really not very good for you.  They are high in saturated fats and nitrites, and often are associated with questionable production practices (i.e., made with “meat by-products” or sometimes mechanically separated poultry).  What if there was a way to make these meat sticks a little healthier for human consumption?  One group in Turkey decided to try and answer that very question using grape by-products, in order to determine if the well-known health benefits of grapes would add nutritional value to the little ol’ wiener.

Wine industry wastes (skins, seeds, etc) are already used as fertilizers, and cattle feed, and as I’ve written about in another blog post, are now being studied and used as preservatives or nutrition-enhancers in food for human consumption.  These by-products contain lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, and polyphenols, in addition to high quantities of antioxidants.  In addition to the healthy antioxidants, these wine industry residues contain flavan-3-ols, which have been shown to have antioxidant properties, as well as anticarcinogen, cardiopreventive, antimicrobial, anti-viral, and neuro-protective agents.  Finally, in addition to all of these beneficial properties, grape seed flour, which is produced from the wine industry residues, contains up to 40% fiber, depending upon the type of grape used.

So, what happens when you use this grape seed flour, which has been manufactured from the wine industry residues, as an ingredient in hot dogs?  A study out earlier this year took this information and set out to examine the quality and functional characteristics of this grape seed flour on hot dog quality, both in regards to health characteristics and finally sensory characteristics.


Grape seed flour was prepared from the manufacturing process at a red wine facility in Kavaklidere, Turkey.  Materials for the hot dogs were collected from Pinar Integrated Meat and Feed Industries, Inc, in Izmir, Turkey.

Varying levels of grape seed flour (0, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5%) were added to the hot dog formulas in place of starch and sodium caseinate (5, 4.5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and 0%), and prepared in a 7kg hot dog batter (for each treatment level).  After the hot dogs were prepared, the following were measured for each treatment level:  moisture content, fat content, pH values, color, TBARS (Thibarbituric Acid Reactive Substances; a.k.a “bad stuff”), protein, dietary fiber, and water holding capacity.  A sensory evaluation was completed by 10 untrained judges for appearance, color, texture, and flavor (after boiling in water for 10 minutes).  Scores from the judges were averaged to get an overall acceptability value for each treatment level.


  •       All grape seed flour treatment levels complied with the Turkish standard of 65% moisture or below for fully cooked products.
  •       The addition of grape seed flour significantly changed pH values.

o   There were no differences in pH between the control (0%) treatment and the treatments containing 0.5 and 2% grape seed flour.

o   The pH value was significantly lower than the control treatment for the grape seed flour treatments containing 1, 3, and 4%, respectively.

o   The pH value for the treatment containing 5% grape seed flour had the lowest pH value. 

§  Generally: increase % grape seed flour, decrease pH (becomes more acidic).

  •       Despite all the variation in pH values, all treatments were within the Turkish standard range.
  •       The color of the hot dogs decreased as the % of grape seed flour increased, which is likely a result of the darker color of the grape seed flour to begin with.
  •         TBARS (a.k.a. “nasty bad stuff”) levels decreased significantly with increasing percentages of grape seed flour, which may be due to the antioxidant properties of the grape seed flour.

o   It is therefore concluded, that by adding grape seed flour, deterioration of the hot dogs by oxidation could be prevented, much like it has been shown with chicken and other meats.

  •       Total protein levels significantly increased with increasing amounts of grape seed flour in hot dogs.
  •       Total dietary fiber significantly increased with increasing amounts of grape seed flour in hotdogs.

Sensory Evaluations

  •       Addition of grape seed flour over 0.5% significantly impacted the overall acceptability of the hot dogs by the judges.
  •       The color changes, in addition to the textural changes, heavily impacted the acceptability of the hot dogs, resulting in decreased likelihood of desire for consumption.

o   The manner in which the grape seed flour was produced allowed the grains to be noticeable to those consuming the hot dogs, and thus further decreased the acceptability of the hot dogs with higher grape seed flour percentages.

What does this all mean?

Results of this experiment are promising, in that the addition of grape seed flour significantly increased the nutritional quality of the hot dogs, from increased protective antioxidant capabilities, to increased protein and dietary fiber levels.  However, one set-back with this experiment was in the sensory analysis, in that with increasing grape seed flour amounts, there was a decrease in overall acceptability of the hot dogs.  Basically, the more grape seed flour there was in the hot dogs, the more the consumer did not enjoy the flavor/color/texture.

Even though the flavor/color/texture became more undesirable with greater quantities of grape seed flour, the fact that the addition of it resulted in a significantly healthier hot dog intrigues me.  Perhaps if the grape seed flour was produced in a way that the grain size was much smaller, it would have less of a negative effect on the sensory analysis portion of the experiment.  A study should be done that analyzes various grape seed flour grain size, and the effect on the nutritional quality of the hot dog, in case by making the grain size smaller somehow damages the healthy cellular components. 

Regardless of the negative results of the sensory analysis, the nutritional chemistry results of this study show promise for using wine industry residues in not only in a preservative/antioxidant capacity, but also for using them as products for increasing overall nutritional health of the food item, such as a source of protein and a source of dietary fiber.  More research needs to be done to tease out the sensory issues, after which a potential new “functional food” may be on the market for human consumption.

I’d love to hear from you!  Please feel free to comment below!
I am not a health professional, nor do I pretend to be. Please consult your doctor before altering your alcohol consumption habits. Do not consume alcohol if you are under the age of 21. Do not drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly!