Food Safety Guidelines
The same general food safety guidelines apply to hot dogs as to all perishable products — “Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.”
Of course, never leave hot dogs at room temperature for more than 2 hours and no more than 1 hour when the temperature goes above 90 °F.
Pregnant women/Older adult precautions:
Although hot dogs are fully cooked, those at increased risk of foodborne illness should reheat hot dogs and luncheon meat until steaming hot before eating, due to the threat of listeriosis.
Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria that cause listeriosis, can be found in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals, and in milk, soil, and leaf vegetables. The bacteria can grow slowly at refrigerator temperatures. Listeria monocytogenes can be in ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, fermented or dry sausage, and other deli-style meat and poultry, soft cheeses and unpasteurized milk. Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, chills, headache, backache, an upset stomach, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Persons who have ingested the bacteria may take up to 3 weeks to become ill. At-risk persons (pregnant women and newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems) may later develop more serious illnesses. Listeria monocytogenes can also cause miscarriages.
Cut Hot Dogs before Giving them to Children
For children younger than 4, whole hot dogs and other round foods can be a choking hazard. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that to prevent choking, cut hot dogs lengthwise or into very small pieces before giving them to children. If the hot dogs have a casing, remove it before cutting the hot dog into pieces for the child.
Jasmine Davenport-Murray REHS
ARF Food Safety Consulting Group