Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety at home
podcast series. These podcasts were designed with you in mind - the consumer - who
purchases and prepares meat, poultry and processed meat, egg products
for your family and friends.
Each episode will bring you a different food safety topic ranging from safe storage, handling,
and preparation of meat, poultry and processed egg products to the importance of keeping
foods safe during a power outage.
So sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Hello, and welcome to Food Safety at Home. I’m Kathy Bernard, with FSIS’ Food Safety
Education Staff, and I will be your host for this segment. With us today is Felicia
Thompson, a frequent caller to the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. Today, I’ll be answering
Felicia’s questions about hot dogs and food safety.
Hello Felicia, welcome to the show.
Thank you for inviting me.
Hot dogs are an American staple, a fun summertime food, and very popular between
Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Also known as Frankfurters, Franks, or wieners, hot dogs are cooked, sometimes smoked
sausages that are made from beef, pork, turkey, chicken, or a combination of meats.
Smoking and curing adds flavor and color.
I have seen different labels on hot dogs: such as Beef Franks, Pork Franks, Turkey
Franks and Chicken Franks.” Can you tell me what the differences are?
“Beef Franks” and “Pork Franks” contain meat from a single species and do not include
byproducts. “Turkey Franks” and “Chicken Franks” contain turkey or chicken and turkey or
chicken skin and fat, in proportion to a turkey or chicken carcass.
Oh…That brings up a question….What are byproducts?
Byproducts are items like heart, kidney and liver.
What about dates? I’ve noticed that some hot dog packages are dated. What do the dates
Well Felicia, I should first mention that product dating is voluntary and not required
by Federal regulations, but if a date is used, the package label must specify what it
A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for
sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
A "Best if Used By (or Before)" date is recommended for best flavor or
quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
A "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product
while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
Very interesting. Hot dogs are fully cooked, and I know they are processed to last
longer than other meat, but they can they still spoil? How long can I keep hot dogs?
When buying hot dogs, refrigerate or freeze them immediately. Keep unopened packages
of hot dogs in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. One week for an opened package.
Use frozen hot dogs within two months for best quality, but they will stay safe
indefinitely in the freezer.
Great! Now I know that I can’t keep hot dogs in the refrigerator for months!
Now, can hot dogs harbor foodborne bacteria?
Yes, although hot dogs are fully cooked, they can become contaminated after
processing. They may become contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Listeria can cause a disease called listeriosis. Symptoms of listeriosis can include
fever, muscle aches, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea.
In some cases, the infection can spread to the nervous system and symptoms such as
headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur. Infections
during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection
of the newborn.
For added precaution, those at risk for foodborne illness, such as pregnant women, young
children, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems should reheat hot dogs
until steaming hot or 165 degrees Fahrenheit before eating.
Very helpful information. Can you think of anything else I should know?
Follow the four simple steps to Be Food Safe:
- Clean. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get on
hands, cutting boards, knives, and countertops. Frequent cleaning with hot, soapy
water can keep that from happening.
- Separate. Cross-contamination is how bacteria spread. Keep
raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat food.
- Cook. Even for experienced cooks, improper heating and
preparation of food means bacteria can survive.
- Chill. Bacteria grow fastest at temperatures between forty
degrees Fahrenheit and one hundred and forty degrees Fahrenheit, so chilling food
properly is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne
illness. That means chilling food within two hours of serving or one hour if the
temperature is above ninety degrees Fahrenheit.
Thank you Kathy, for inviting me to be on your show and for
answering my questions. Can you tell us how our listeners can ask additional questions
about the safe storage and handling of hot dogs?
they can visit the FSIS virtual representative, Ask Karen, which can answer food safety
questions 24/7, at AskKaren.gov.
In addition, food safety fact sheets are available on the FSIS Webs site at:
They may also call the toll-free USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline, at one, eight, eight, eight,
MPHotline (1-888- MPHotline). That’s one, eight, eight, eight, six, seven, four, six,
eight, five, four (1-888-674-6854.)
That’s it for this week. Felicia Thompson was visiting the studio today. Thank you for
your interesting questions about hot dogs. I’m Kathy Bernard and I’d like to thank you for
joining us for this episode of “Food Safety at Home.” And remember, “Be Food Safe.”
Well, that's all for this time. Thanks for joining us today for another episode of
food safety at home!
For answers to your food safety questions call USDA's toll-free Meat and Poultry Hotline
at 1-888-MPHotline. That's 1-888-674-6854.
You can also get answers to food safety questions online from our virtual representative
"Ask Karen" at askkaren.gov .
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your comments to
Thanks for tuning in.