Here's a good riddle for foodies: How in the world could a hot dog be a better dinner choice than rotisserie chicken? Researchers explain, in a new study printed in a journal named—what else?—Meat Science. Turns out there are carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) present in meat that has been fried, grilled, or cooked at high temperatures. And, when comparing eight ready-to-eat meat products, researchers found that rotisserie chicken had the highest level of HCAs, Time reports.
The researchers prepared each item (hot dogs, deli meats, cooked bacon, pepperoni, and rotisserie chicken) the way they thought a consumer might, meaning the rotisserie chicken was used straight out of the package while the hot dogs were microwaved. The result: Pepperoni had the lowest HCA levels, while hot dogs and deli meat came in second. Cooked bacon and rotisserie chicken had the highest levels—but that may have more to do with processing than anything else, and Time recommends that to be safe, you should just stay away from processed meats altogether.