Happy Hot Dog Month!

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council is perhaps the biggest advocate around for the U.S.’s favorite tubular meat: the hot dog. The council has declared the month of July as National Hot Dog Month, and ever since their decree originated, other countries around the world have joined the festivities.

If you participate in one of the many picnics, barbecues, and hot dog-eating contests held in your local community this month, here are our tips for practicing food safety with this beloved summertime food.

  • If there’s no expiration date on your package of hot dogs, you can store them for two weeks in the fridge (only one week if the package is opened). Frozen hot dogs last one or two months.
  • Keep hot hot dogs hot, and cold ones cold. Don’t leave hot dogs at room temperature for more than two hours — one, if the temperature is above 90°F.
  • Listeria monocytogenes, a pathogenic foodborne bacteria, is a risk with ready-to-eat meats like hot dogs. It can take up to three weeks to get sick, so be aware of the symptoms: diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, headaches, backaches, fever and/or chills. Pregnant women are especially at risk.
  • Whole hot dogs can be a choking hazard for the little ones, so cut hot dogs into small pieces for kids under age four. Remove any sausage casings on the hot dog.
  • While hot dogs are usually sold pre-cooked, you want to heat them up warm enough to kill any bacteria that may have contaminated them before they reach your grill. Heat them until steaming hot, and keep them at 140°F or warmer.

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