Vienna "All Beef" Hot Dogs Are Made With Sheep, Pigs

Sorry Chicagoans, your beloved Vienna “100% All Beef” hot dogs are actually encased in sheep and pigs, according to a recently settled class action suit. Under the settlement, all class members—anyone in the U.S. who bought a Vienna hot dog at a hot dog stand in the past five years—are entitled to $3 per consumed hog dog. To submit a claim, visit and follow the procedures listed there.

In Re Vienna Beef Ltd. Litigation: CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT INFORMATION [The Consumer Advocacy Center]
Just in Time for Lunch: Hot Dogs & the Law, Part I [Wall Street Journal Law Blog]
(Photo: Meghann Marco)


Edit Your Comment

  1. TheMurderer says:

    SHENANIGANS! I call shenanigans!

  2. Julia789 says:

    For people whose religion expressly forbids eating pork, I could see the problem.

    • @Julia789:
      Indeed, religion is the problem.

      • Micromegas says:

        @NigerianScammer: What are you, 12 years old?

        And to comment on this, it seems like a case of deceptive advertising, plain and simple. It’s common knowledge that plenty of people don’t eat pork for religious or moral reasons, so they have to rely on advertising and product packaging to know when something is safe for them to eat. A food company taking advantage of that trust is pretty low.

        • Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

          @Micromegas: Let’s stop the name calling.

          NigerianScammer, saying “religion is the problem” is inflammatory and borders on trolling.

          Let’s keep this comment thread ON TOPIC. No more digs at other users.

    • Benny Gesserit says:

      @Julia789: Exactly! Until I read #10 I was about to say this is too frivolous for words.

      But is any amount of money really going to make things better?

    • shufflemoomin says:

      @Julia789: Because if a law firm gives them $3 their gods will forgive them?

      • Julia789 says:

        @shufflemoomin: Personally, I’m not religious, so it seems silly to me. But I understand why they’d be upset. I can understand without having to agree with them.

        The class action suit seems a bit ridiculous to me, but they may feel it’s the only way they could get the company to pay attention.

  3. tankertodd says:

    Well if you encased an all-beef hot dog using beef casing I would assume that it would be one enormous hot dog given the assumed size of the cow’s small intestine.

    Perhaps a better resolution to the lawsuit would be to ban reference to the ingredients of any hot dog or sausage product. Let us live in ignorance…

    • MissTicklebritches says:

      @tankertodd: um, pigs and sheep also have small intestines that are several yards long. You snip them into smaller sections.

      Oh, and BTW, Jews and Moslems aren’t supposed to eat pork products. Sure, not all observe that restriction, but those that do rely on food producers to be honest about the ingredients they use.

      • silver-bolt says:

        @MissTicklebritches: He means width/circumference, not length.

        • Julia789 says:

          @silver-bolt: That’s what all the guys say. ; )

        • MissTicklebritches says:

          @silver-bolt: um, it can still be cut/adjusted.

          • Jackasimov says:

            @MissTicklebritches: If you spend a few moments thinking before writing you might be able to circumvent the incessant “um”. Once is fine. Twice is, um, annoying.

            “Oh, and BTW, Jews and Moslems aren’t supposed to eat pork products. Sure, not all observe that restriction, but those that do rely on food producers to be honest about the ingredients they use.”
            Um, who doesn’t already know this? I say if you’re at reading level (and here, reading this) there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard of Kosher and Halal. And, um, “Moslem” what is this the 60s?

            My question is this: What happens if Jews and Muslims eat pork? I know they aren’t supposed to but what if they do, accidentally or otherwise? No heaven? No afterlife? Awesome, I’ll see you all there.

            Also, if this inspires any smartypants to respond (looking at you Ticklebritches), is there any current reason that they can’t consume pRok? I reckon this religious practice is at best hard to justify. Then again, I love hot dogs and pork. I’ll trade my seat next to the maker for a good pig encased dog any day.

            • Rectilinear Propagation says:

              Um, who doesn’t already know this?
              @Jackasimov: Apparently GoVegan didn’t. They specifically asked, “Whats the difference between eating a cow, pig or even dog for that matter?”

              10 shouldn’t be relevent at all. Saying all beef when it’s not all beef is fraudulent reguardless of whether the victims of the fraud have any dietary constraints.
              @vladthepaler: THIS
              Anyone who bought these didn’t get what they were paying for: an all beef hot dog. You shouldn’t have to say anything beyond, “I paid for an all beef hotdog and that isn’t what I got.”

              You shouldn’t have to go on about your faith, allergies, or whatever when you were defrauded.

          • kenboy says:



            How can you change the diameter of a beef intestine to make it fit a hot dog?

            My understanding is the only way you can have a kosher natural casing on a hot dog is if it’s a sheep casing. A beef casing would be used for salami — much much much thicker than a hot dog.

  4. GoVegan says:

    I don’t get it. Whats the difference between eating a cow, pig or even dog for that matter? It is all basically animal flesh even though it may be from different animals. This article does show the huge problem we do have with food labeling in our country though and I am glad to see someone win a lawsuit over this. We should demand regulations that require food manufacturers to list all ingredients in their products as we have a right to know what we are consuming and paying for. Also, I have heard that most processed meat products such as hot dogs and hamburgers often contain the parts of 100’s of animals in the same package and are very difficult to trace if someone gets ill form the food. I personally dont eat meat and prefer products from manufacturers like Tofurky who are careful with their ingredients. Also, eating meat is terrible for the environment and they say you are better off as a vegan driving a Hummer then you are as a meat eater driving a Prius in regards to harming the earth.

    • MissTicklebritches says:

      @GoVegan: helloooooo! Kosher and Halal dietary restrictions allow the consumption of beef (certain cuts) but not pork!

    • Tank says:

      @GoVegan: nothin like deep fried cocker spaniel with a side of cole slaw & biscuits

      • GoVegan says:

        @Tank: I think its sad that you find slaughtering animals and hurting our environment funny and I hope you will find peace within yourself one day. The real issue is that food labeling laws are pathetic and that as consumers we deserve to know what is in the food we are paying for. If a carton of milk said: This product contains traces of pus, blood and antibiotics would you still drink it? There shouldn’t be any deception in the labeling. I have a feeling that out food industry is full of lobbyist that could care less about your health or your children’s health as long as they are making a profit. BTW if your truly enjoy eating dogs and you are not just making sick jokes at the expense of others, then you have the right to know if what your are eating is really dog and not cat with a dog label on it.

        • Veeber says:

          @GoVegan: I found his comment to be more of a commentary on the effectiveness of trying to guilt someone into not eating meat.

          In terms of the labeling, I’m all for it. However there are always going to little bits of “contaminants” and I think the current federal regulations recognize that. Unless we start synthetically manufacturing all of our food there’s no way to avoid it. But be careful what you ask for as you’ll have to add insects to peanut butter.

          And while eating “pets” seems to be problematic in western countries consumption of dog and cat meat is not really any different if you don’t have that emotional attachemnt.

    • Hate_Brian_Club_I'mNotOnlyThePresidentI'mAClient says:


      I agree, GoVegan, all animals are equally delicious, but need to be labeled so the consumer knows how to properly season them.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      @GoVegan: Then does not mean the same as than.

      Also it’s not about being vegan or eating meat. It’s about products bein made of what we are told they are made of.

      There are people who, for religious reasons, can eat beef but not pork. There is also the possibility of being allergic to one and not the other. Like being allergic to peanuts but not other legumes.

  5. Khuluna says:

    EEEEEEEW! I ate a bunch of these! Pork! Eeeew. I like sheep though. Lamb’s DELISHUS. But still, pork. Eeeew… I don’t care about the money, I care about the lying. I don’t even remember close to the date I ate them, though. I just remember eating like…6.

  6. I don’t think these were sold as kosher. So the question is moot.

    • Luckie says:

      @twophrasebark: It does still matter, because kosher equates to the Jewish laws of clean and unclean. Moslem and Adventists laws are in many ways similar but not exact. My parents are Adventists, and they aren’t supposed to eat pork products, but their religion doesn’t require that the animal be killed within kosher guidelines. So if they had eaten this thinking it was an all cow product that just didn’t have a rabbi in-house, they’d have been very upset.

    • MissTicklebritches says:

      @twophrasebark: once again, read the settlement terms. The point isn’t whether they were sold as Kosher (or Halal for that matter). The point is that they were sold as pure beef. Many people don’t follow Kosher or Halal to the letter, but they do avoid all pig products.

      • @MissTicklebritches:

        “Oh, and BTW, Jews and Moslems aren’t supposed to eat pork products. Sure, not all observe that restriction, but those that do rely on food producers to be honest about the ingredients they use.”

        I was responding to your above quote. The hot dogs were not labeled as kosher. Therefore, the BEEF is not kosher. It doesn’t matter if there was pork in it. It’s already completely not kosher.


        I was just commenting on the kosher issue. The dogs are not labeled as kosher. As far as other religious dietary restrictions, you have a point. I don’t know anything about that.

  7. Angryrider says:

    Pah, I already know skinned hotdogs are usually encased in sheep or pork. They should have bough all beef unskinned, like the Boar’s Head brand. They’re fantastic!

  8. grouse says:

    How am I supposed to remember how many hot dogs I’ve had over the years, and where I had them? I actually keep my receipts, but I don’t remember ever getting one from a hot dog vendor.

  9. thelushie says:

    Stick with Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs.

  10. The Stork says:

    Hmmm. I think I will continue to devour Vienna Beef every chance I get.

  11. LordieLordie says:

    man, this post makes me hungry for a hot dog…

  12. maztec says:

    Excuse me. But that picture? That thing you are pointing at. That is a Tomato. That is not a hot dog. I do not even see the hot dog in that picture.

    Although, in all seriousness, this is the casing we are talking about. There are two types of casings: Natural and Unnatural. These are further subdivided. Natural casings are primarily made with sheep (small) and pig (medium), but sometimes with cow (extra-large). Natural casings tend to get brittle when cooked and give that characteristic *SNAP* when bit through, yum! Unnatural casings are made from collagen, cellulose, or plastic. Yes, plastic (most are made from plastic) – a great, healthy product to be eating, for sure (note sarcastic tone). Most unnatural casings are chewy – that casing you cannot bite through? Probably not meant to be bitten through.

    That said, I have noted this as a problem for years (my wife does not eat pork products). Most sausage products are encased with pork casings. The irony is that many pork based sausages use lamb casings – particularly for those small breakfast sausages.

    WholeFoods is a major offender of this. Their chicken and fish sausages use pork casings, their pork products often use lamb casings. They do not provide signs about this (most places do not). Instead you are forced to ask. Most companies do not think to count the casing as part of the product so will sell it as “pure” or “100%” whatever – and for all intents and purposes it is, just cut the casing off. But that does not settle problem.

    Nevertheless, casings add little to no flavor to the product. The submucosa layer is mostly collagen and the casings are typically thoroughly cleaned. This does not prevent it from being a problem to those averse to pork products – no matter the reason.

    Finally, Beef Hot Dogs and Sausages can often be caseless – but that requires a finer pureed meat.

    And now you know more about casings than you probably needed to know. Congratulations.

    • sleze69 says:

      @maztec: Damnit, maztec, you beat me to it! ;)

    • mmmsoap says:

      @maztec: Yes, plastic (most are made from plastic) – a great, healthy product to be eating, for sure (note sarcastic tone).

      Sources? My understanding is that most of the time, the plastic casing is used to mold/shape sausages, then removed so they can be sold as “caseless”. Not sure where I got that (but there was an AWESOME PBS special on hotdogs a couple of years ago, so that may be it.)

      That being said, gimme the natural casing sausage. I love the crackle! I suppose this news is pretty upsetting for those who care, but the thought of sheep or pork being used in hot dogs only freaks me out if I think about it to much. (Ah! Think about something else!) There’s a reason for the old saying about “don’t ask how the sausage was made.”

  13. BytheSea says:

    Ewww they still use intestine for the casing?!?! I was onyl eating hot dogs b/c I was told it was synthetic!

    • MissTicklebritches says:

      @BytheSea: If the idea of intestine casing repulses you (I try not to think about it, myself), then stay away from all-natural hot dogs. If I were you, I wouldn’t buy them at someplace like Whole Foods.

  14. jonworld says:

    Nice picture…I love Portillos…mmmm

  15. agnamus says:

    The claim form is here: [] . If you’re thinking about sumbitting a claim, I suggest you do it this route and you seriously consider the attestation you have to sign to receive money from the settlement:

    “I affirm, under penalties of perjury, that I purchased or consumed Vienna Beef Natural Casing Products (in the quantities and at the locations listed above) not knowing that such products contained a pork/hog or sheep intestine casing, and would not have purchased or consumed the Natural Casing Products had I known that they contained a pork/hog or sheep intestine casing.”

    Something that needs to be spelled out by the court is what does “would not have purchased or consumed” mean? Obviously it’s intended to include people who don’t eat pork or mutton. Does it include people who dislike those products without a well defined reason and prefer not to eat them? Does it include people who don’t mind those products but think beef a higher quality product and thus prefer all beef (what was advertised) to mixed species products? I would probably fall into the last group but I’m not about to risk perjuring myself over a couple hundred dollars. Anyone willing to follow up on this?

  16. Fly Girl says:

    I don’t understand how a company can label something “All Beef” when it’s made with sheep and pig casing. That would definitely make it NOT “All Beef.” How did that happen? What genius thought that was a good idea? That it wouldn’t matter? That no one would notice?

    And I REALLY don’t understand how the FDA let that label through– don’t we have regulations that control disclosure in manufacturing?…

    I have lots of friends who don’t keep kosher and/or halal but do NOT eat any pork products (primarily for religious reasons). If a hot dog is labeled “All Beef” but not “Kosher,” it’s generally assumed that the casing is either beef or synthetic. If it says “All Beef” on the label, consumers should be able to be confident that the profuct in question is, in fact, ALL BEEF. Not “Mostly Beef with a Little Bit of Sheep and/or Pig.”

    Shame, shame Vienna! And shame, shame FDA for not catching this a LONG time ago!!!

    • agnamus says:

      @Fly Girl: Shame on the FDA for not catching this? Not quite. If we learned anything from the e. coli outbreak that was linked back to spinach, it’s that the FDA doesn’t have nearly enough resources to get into plants frequently (it was something like an inspection every 2 and a half years for the spinach plants). What you’re asking for is incredibly more difficult. I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell the species that a casing came from by casual inspection. Maybe you can, but maybe it requires testing. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think we can expect proactive testing from an agency that isn’t even funded sufficiently to pay an inspector to drop in every other year. But, that’s the whole point of the tort system. Since agencies can’t proactively police producers, the people must police them retrospectively via law suit.

    • Jackasimov says:

      @Fly Girl: I’m guessing that they’re not considering the casing part of the food “product”. Just like they could still call their dogs “all beef” if the casing was man-made. No one eats just casing. And it is not involved in flavoring or probably even in the nutritional contents. Just a guess.

  17. rpm773 says:

    I kept asking those nice folks at the Wiener Circle over and over again if they could vouch for the meat content of their char cheddar dogs, but all I ever got in response was “Shut the up and order, white boy!”

  18. humphrmi says:

    There is a whole group of people who do not eat pork even though they will eat non-kosher beef. Since the laws of Kashrut are spread out around the bible, it’s possible to be more observant of some laws and less of others.

    For instance, the definitions of animals that are Kosher are all pretty much defined in Leviticus 11, however the Kosher slaughter laws are in Deuteronomy (12) And Leviticus 17.

    • humphrmi says:

      @humphrmi: I guess I could have closed that comment a bit more clearly.

      So to be clear… the Vienna Beef hotdogs would meet the laws of Kashrut laid down in Lev 11 (if they didn’t have sheep and pig casings) but would not meet the slaughter laws laid down in Deu 12 and Lev 17. Depending on your Jewish affiliation, the latter may not be as important, but the former is and always remains important.

  19. jecowa says:

    I think it is legal to label a food item as 100% whatever if the other ingredients comprise of less than 1% of the total food item.

  20. yevarechecha says:

    Religious Jews would probably not have bought these anyway because they did not have a hashgacha. I don’t know about Muslims and Seventh-Day Adventists but I think many of them also rely on this. Those who keep “ingredient kosher” would have a problem. This is, in fact, why the kashrus supervision is marked on the package. Even if it is “beef,” it might not have been slaughtered correctly, or it might be from the forbidden part of the cow, or it might have been processed on machinery that also processes pigs or dairy, or there might be unlabeled additives, all of which would make the whole thing treif. The hashgacha on the package (OU, Circle-K, Kof-K, etc.) is the assurance that a rabbi has investigated this.

    Of course, then you get things like the Hatzlocha Grocery scandal in Monsey 2 years ago where the kosher butcher passed off treif chickens as glatt kosher and every Jewish kitchen in Monsey had to be re-kashered. Some people cannot resist taking a shortcut.

    • Luckie says:

      @yevarechecha: Of course, there are always differences in people and congregations, but all the Adventists I know who eat meat at all are only ingredient kosher. They eat cheeseburgers and don’t care how the animal was slaughtered. Most practicing Adventists don’t eat meat at all, though, so for a lot, the point is moot. But for those like my parents, it’s important for them not to eat pig intestines.

  21. This is the most tangential discussion.

    So I am going to add: Really, are you surprised? You eat hot dogs and you’re surprised they’re full of crap?

    I mean, like, they’re allowed to have a certain amount of bugs in the hot dogs by the FDA and we’re worried about the casing for the hot dog?

    Really. When I eat a hot dog, I assume and presume that I am enjoying a hot piece of meat crap with mustard. Even all beef hot dogs make no impact on me. They taste a little better, but all beef could mean lot of things to the FDA.

    So… really. I say: really now.

  22. And also, I say, bring on the sheep hot dogs. Sell them at Whole Foods and charge twice the price.

    Who’s with me???

  23. Besides the religious issues, many people would take offence to the lying, I think… In general, I prefer companies not to lie to me about their products, even if the lies don’t particularly affect ME. I am, thus, glad that they are being punished for this.

  24. Whitey Fisk says:

    I don’t care. They still taste awesome.

  25. is available

    Just sayin’

  26. glater says:

    Pretty much this entire thread is absolutely ridiculous, from the first comment.

    This is a food labelling and truth in advertising issue. Period.

    • agnamus says:

      @glater: Uh, no. This is a class action settlement, and, accordingly, the only things that matter are the terms of the settlement. hth.

    • @glater: What are you talking about? This is the quintessential Consumerist thread. It’s a shining beacon of 30 people talking at once, without talking to each other and not particularly about the subject matter at hand either.

      This is the Consumerist community at its finest.

      Who wants a SheepDogâ„¢?

  27. Canino says:

    Send the following in an email to

    9. A sample of the product along with the wholesale box lid or box itself, (if not, that is ok too);

    Send a sample via email? What kind of email server does that guy have? And where can I get one?

  28. Bruce says:

    “9. A sample of the product”…

    I don’t have any remaining original samples of the product but consuming the original product does produce a known by-product. I’m willing to send large amounts of that to *any* lawyer.

    Heck, I’d even pay for overnight shipping to ensure that it arrived as fresh as possible!

    I see that Canino picked up on this too, requirement # 9 can not be complied with the way it’s worded.

    Typically when a customer buys a single serving of a consumable food product, they don’t generally receive the wholesale packaging it came in unless you shop at Costco, then you get all manner of shipping boxes.

    The expression on the recyclers faces are priceless when you have several huge shipping boxes the Tampax products came in, sitting on the curb. You can still hear them laughing from the next street over…..

    When those huge boxes from Trojans are sitting out there, that’s simply a matter of pride. :)

  29. Corporate_guy says:

    This settlement is ridiculous. And the consumerist needs to clarify that just eating them doesn’t make you part of the class.
    “All consumers residing in the United States (including the District of Columbia, territories and possessions) who have consumed and/or purchased any Vienna Beef Natural Casing Products and a) did not know that the casing on the Natural Casing Product consisted of pork/hog or sheep intestine and b) would not have consumed and/or purchased the National Casing Product if they had known the product’s casing consisted of pork/hog or sheep intestine.”
    According to this you have to have a valid reason why you don’t eat pork or sheep to become a class member. This settlement is shame and I highly doubt being lied to about it will count as a valid reason. As they specifically separate the being lied to part from the reasoning of not wanting to eat pork or sheep.
    The consumerist should be headlining that these terms are designed to suggest that lying about the contents wasn’t a bad thing because you would have eaten the hot dog had you have known.
    I find it very troubling they think it’s ok to lie about the ingredients. But I guess until you find someone allergic to sheep meat, vienna will be able to get away with it.

    • agnamus says:

      @Corporate_guy: Your argument needs to be softened. The settlement does not clearly call for you presenting a reason why you don’t eat mutton/pork at all. It calls for a reason why you wouldn’t have eaten these specific dogs knowing that they had a pork or lamb casing. I’m not sure, but the traditional “snouts and a$$holes” objection to hotdogs may have traction here. Some people eat all-beef hot dogs because that advertising signal tells us that there’s higher quality meat in it. I don’t know about you, but I take serious pause before eating hot dogs that won’t even provide such a minimal amount of quality assurance.

  30. alawrites says:

    I hate vegan preachy people, you make us all look bad, but I have to say, it shocks me how many people say “Oh gross, sheep intestine.” You are eating body parts of an animal. If the animal or the body part grosses you out, you probably should not be eating meat. (And yes I know about religious restrictions, I am talking about people who are just grossed out by intestines)

  31. mike says:

    Wait a minute…if there is no verification, anyone can get $3. Is this the case? Can I get $3?

  32. SpdRacer says:

    Yeah, I don’t care, still the best hotdog around.

  33. vladthepaler says:

    Good thing I can remember every time I’ve eaten a hot dog from a stand, what kind and brand of hot dog it was, and the addresses of the pushcarts in question.

    10 shouldn’t be relevent at all. Saying all beef when it’s not all beef is fraudulent reguardless of whether the victims of the fraud have any dietary constraints.

    Why does it want your phone number twice?

  34. mariospants says:

    “cut” “uncut”, “cased” “eating pork” “one enormous hot dog” “encased” “He means width/circumference, not length.”… what exactly are we talking about here?

    Anyway, enough with my stupid double-entendres…

    I wonder what would happen if a manufacturer decided to make a low-fat, high protein dog made from some percentage of “normal” meats and a high percentage of insect or other “creepy crawly” protein (and here we’d probably use grubs or worms to avoid chitin crunchiness)? If the process of raising, cleaning and prepping the insect meat was done to the same standards of cleanliness as normal meat, would they have to specially label the packaging? What if the ingredients were only mentioned in the “ingredients listing” on the side of the package? Would people sue? COULD people sue? (due to potential revulsion).

    I have Jewish friends who eat bacon all the time, but I’ll bet they would not eat a “grub dog”.

    We’re too hung up on labels.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      @mariospants: Mmmmm Grubdogs.

      As long as they told us they put grubs/worms in them, no problem here (if the process was the same as other meats). I may even try one or two.

  35. quirkyrachel says:

    Hah!! I knew it! That’s why I only eat Kosher hot dogs! Hah!

  36. quirkyrachel says:

    And seriously? I decided to not eat pork for religious reasons years ago, and found that pork is put in a lot of things, including chicken sausages and beef hot dogs. I’m very careful to check the labels, or not order something if I ‘m not sure. (The pork in those products by the way is usually the lining.)

  37. betatron says:

    this is bullshit. Anyone from Chicago knows they do this– it’s why they don’t have Kosher certification. and excuse me…$3/hotdog???? Beyond insane.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Anyone from Chicago knows they do this– it’s why they don’t have Kosher certification.
      @betatron: Just because something isn’t certified as being Kosher doesn’t mean it’s got pork in it. That isn’t enough for customers to know that the 100% beef claim is bogus.

      • betatron says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation: If it’s worth $3/dog, due diligence should be imposed. Vienna is very straight up about it. it’s on their website, and it’s mentioned on several television programs about chicago/hotdogs/comfort foods. It is not a secret by even the most contorted reasoning.

        Not knowing an all natural casing dog contains non-beef components speaks very clearly to bad consumer education and the general stupidity of Americans. It (casing dogs) has always, since the dawn of civilization, been the case that sheep or pig guts are used in natural hotdog manufacture. To complain otherwise is to be a frigging money grubbing lawsuit-gaming moron.

        Next up: Sinclair Petroleum isn’t made out of dinosaurs?

  38. betatron says:

    AND another thing. disclosure: I buy these things by the case, from the factory. I prefer the 6 to a pound size. They are excellent. You have to go to the factory to get VB casing dogs; they only sell skinless dogs at the grocery.