Hotdogs, also called frankfurters or wieners, are readily available at butcher shops and supermarkets. They are made from chicken, pork, turkey, beef or a combination of all meats. Although they can be flavorful, hot dogs can pose a safety hazard if not cooked, served or prepared properly.
Although hotdogs are completely cooked before they are packaged and cooled, they can still contain dangerous bacteria such as salmonella. To prevent food-borne illness, always reheat your hotdogs before you serve them. Insert a food thermometer into the meat to ensure that each dog has reached an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not leave cooked hot dogs out at room temperature for more than two hours.
Always clean your hands, cooking surfaces and utensils thoroughly with hot water and soap before and after you prepare hotdogs. Be careful not to cross-contaminate by keeping the juices of your hotdogs away from other raw meats or ready-to-eat foods such as vegetables or prepared salads. You can prepare your hotdogs ahead of time, but make sure that you store them on a warming plate or heated surface so that they stay at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Refrigerate or freeze your hot dogs immediately after you purchase them from the grocery store. Harmful bacteria can accumulate in them, especially if they are left out for more than an hour at temperatures greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You can keep the hotdogs in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Frozen hotdogs are safe to store for approximately two months or longer. If you open the package of hotdogs, it is only safe to store them in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Hotdogs pose a choking hazard for young children, especially those who are younger than 4. If there is a casing around the hotdog, it must be removed before serving. Cut the hotdogs into lengthwise slices or chop them into very small pieces before giving them to young children. Hotdogs can harbor the harmful Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, which is extremely dangerous to unborn babies and young children. Always reheat your hotdogs thoroughly to kill this bacterium before serving to children and pregnant women.
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension; Safe Handling of Sausages & Hot Dogs; March 2009
- Colorado State University Extension; Food Safety During Pregnancy; J. Dean and P. Kendall; December 2006
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; Hot Dogs and Food Safety; July 26, 2010
- University of Illinois Extension; Hot Dogs and Food Safety; October 15, 2009
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; Keep Food Safe! Food Safety Basics; April 25, 2007