If you’ve just got hot dogs out of a tin or a packet, you might be wondering whether you need to heat these before they are safe to consume. These sausages are a great convenience food, but when you’re in a hurry, even a small amount of cooking can be a problem – so do you actually need to cook them?
Can you eat hot dogs cold? Many pre-packaged hot dogs can be eaten cold, although you should check whether the words “uncured,” “partially cooked,” or “raw” appear anywhere on the packet. If these phrases appear, the hot dogs must be cooked. However, once they have been cooked, it is safe to let them cool and then eat them later.
Is it Safe to Eat Hot Dogs Cold?
You can safely eat a hot dog cold as long as it has been fully cooked. Many hot dogs have been fully cooked before being packaged, but it is crucial to check this before consuming them because eating undercooked or raw meat could make you extremely sick. Once the meat has been cooked, it can be eaten at any temperature.
If you have some leftover hot dog sausages that you have cooked and then stored in the fridge, it is perfectly safe to eat them cold as long as you are following other food safety guidelines. They should keep for about three or four days in the fridge once they have been cooked.
It isn’t safe to eat raw or partially cooked hot dogs cold or lukewarm. They must be cooked following the guidelines on the packaging to kill off any bacteria in the meat and ensure that it is safe to consume. Make sure you always check this before eating hot dogs straight from the packet.
In general, it is best to cook hot dogs even if the packaging states they have been cooked. This reduces the risk of any bacteria having grown in the meat since it was cooked, and brings down the overall risk of contracting food poisoning.
What are the Risks of Eating Hot Dogs That Aren’t Cooked?
Eating any meat that has not been prepared properly carries a high risk of food poisoning, and this is true for hot dogs. The meat can contain various kinds of bacteria that could make you very ill. Food poisoning can range in severity but in some extreme cases, it can be fatal – so don’t take risks with food safety.
Raw or partially cooked hot dogs may contain listeria, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and a fever. This bacteria can survive in cold temperatures so keeping your hot dogs in the fridge will not be sufficient to negate this risk.
Other kinds of bacteria could also be present in the flesh, so treat uncooked hot dogs with the same wariness as other raw meat.
How Should You Store Cold Hot Dogs?
It’s important to keep your hot dogs chilled both before and after cooking them. Do not leave hot dogs at room temperature under any circumstances; this will make them unsafe to eat, regardless of whether they have been cooked or not.
When you are at the grocery store, it’s a good idea to pick up chilled foods like hot dogs toward the end of your shop to minimize the amount of time that they spend in a warm environment. Make sure you go home straight away after shopping, and transfer foods like hot dogs to your fridge directly.
The USDA has designated the temperature range between 40 and 140 degrees F as the “danger zone” for bacteria breeding. If your hot dogs are kept above 40 degrees F for more than 2 hours (or above 90 degrees F for more than an hour), they will need to be thrown away.
Bacteria will have spread through the meat quickly enough to make it unsafe to eat, even if you then cook it. Although cooking will kill the bacteria, it will not remove the toxins that the bacteria has left in the meat.
These could make you sick, so do not try to make meat products safe again just by heating them. Be careful and keep hot dogs in the fridge at all times.
This is true after cooking the hot dogs too. Cool them to room temperature as quickly as you can, and then place them in an airtight container in the fridge.
Do You Have to Reheat Hot Dogs You Have Cooked?
If you have cooked hot dogs according to the packaging directions and then cooled and refrigerated them, you do not have to reheat them in order to make them safe to eat. You can eat them straight from the fridge.
However, you must follow the same rules about getting the meat refrigerated as soon as possible. Place any leftovers on a cold plate or tray to cool down, spacing them out so that air can circulate over the meat and help with the heat dissipation.
You need the hot dogs to reach room temperature before they can be refrigerated, or they will raise the temperature inside the fridge and this could make other foods in there unsafe to eat.
When the hot dogs are cool enough, place them in an airtight container and put them in the fridge for up to four days. During this time, you can eat them cold and they should be perfectly safe.
How Do You Know If Cold Hot Dogs Are Safe to Eat?
Unfortunately, it can be challenging to tell whether a meat is safe to eat or not. Common telltale signs include mushiness, sliminess, and a change in smell, taste, or appearance. However, it is possible for cold hot dogs to contain bacteria without showing any obvious signs.
If you are unsure about some hot dogs, it is best not to eat them, especially cold.
In some cases, it is safe to eat cold hot dogs directly from the packet or from your refrigerator. However, you must make sure that the meat is fully cooked and that it has been consistently stored at a low temperature. If hot dogs have been left out or they aren’t cooked, do not eat them.