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HOT_DOG_PLANT.JPGA decades-old Capitol joke is that crafting legislation is a lot like making sausage.

California lawmakers have not yet defined sausage-making, but they're moving in that direction, perhaps, by biting into another meaty issue: hot dogs.

You've bought them at ballparks, roasted them over campfires, slathered mustard on them, perhaps blown the Oscar Mayer wiener whistle. But what are they, exactly?

Assembly Bill 1252, a wide-ranging health bill that addresses matters ranging from employees' hand-washing to the size of food trucks' water heaters, contains a 44-word definition of the cylinder-shaped meat.

The bill is meant to expand upon an existing statute that lists steaming or boiling of hot dogs as a "limited food preparation" in which vendors can engage, but doesn't specify what a hot dog is.

Here's what will be inserted into the California Health and Safety Code if the Assembly Health Committee's proposal becomes law:

" 'Hot dog' means a whole, cured, cooked sausage that is skinless or stuffed in a casing, that may be known as a frankfurter, frank, furter, wiener, red hot, Vienna, bologna, garlic bologna or knockwurst, and that may be served in a bun or roll."

PHOTO CREDIT: Skinned hot dogs run through the sorting machine on their way to quality control at Miller Packing Co. in Oakland on March 1, 2001. Kat Wade / San Francisco Chronicle file, 2001.



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