What Happens If You Eat Expired Hot Dogs?

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If you love hot dogs, it might be difficult for you to let them go once they’ve expired. So, what happens if you eat expired hot dogs? Join us as we attempt to answer this question along with other questions pertaining to expired hot dogs.

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hot dog held

Do Hot Dogs Really Expire?

When it comes to our favorite picnic foods, questions like What happens if you eat expired mayo? and Can you eat expired bread?” run rampant. Naturally then, it is plausible to wonder whether or not your cherished hot dogs actually expire.

The answer to this question? Yes, hot dogs really do expire! 

Despite what you might think about hot dogs maintaining a long life due to preservatives and other components that make up this American favorite, the truth of the matter is that hot dogs can be very dangerous if consumed after their expiration date, due to the threat of a serious infection known as listeria.

Because of this, it is best that you consume hot dogs that are unopened no more than two weeks after you’ve purchased them and store an opened hot dog package no more than one week after opening.

How Long Are Hot Dogs Good for After Use-By Date?

After the use-by date, hot dogs are generally good for only 1-2 weeks. 

Though many sources claim that hot dogs can last much longer after the use-by date than this, the USDA suggests otherwise. Therefore, we recommend not consuming hot dogs outside of the 1-2 week window, especially once the package date indicates that your hot dogs have expired. 

hotdog sandwiches

Is It Okay to Eat Expired Hot Dogs?

Not really.

Though most hot dogs come fully cooked and contain preservatives that help keep them fresh, they also are prone to harboring harmful bacteria that can cause you to become very ill.

Listeria monocytogenes are a type of bacteria known to cause infection within the intestines of humans and even animals. This dangerous bacteria can often be found lurking in pre-made foods like deli meat and hot dogs, and as such, pose a serious risk to human health, especially when those foods are left to sit. 

Even in the refrigerator, hot dogs can slowly become contaminated with listeria monocytogenes which is why discarding your hot dogs within 1-2 weeks of expiry is important. This is also why it is often recommended that pregnant women not consume hot dogs or deli meats.

Can I Eat Expired Hot Dogs?

You can. But should you?

We think not.

Because hot dogs are susceptible to harboring bacteria that causes listeria, we’d recommend you steer clear of expired hot dogs all together.

Although it is generally recommended that you observe the taste, texture, and smell of an expired food before consuming it, the truth is that some foods, like deli meats and hot dogs, can be very detrimental if consumed long after the printed sell-by date. 

Again, there may be information out there that suggests that eating expired hot dogs is okay; but given the aforementioned risks, we simply wouldn’t recommend it.

What Happens If You Eat Expired Hot Dogs That Look Fine?

Eating expired hot dogs that look fine might seem okay, but you can’t see listeria lurking in your hot dogs before you eat them.

There is a possibility that a hot dog that looks fine on the outside still is unsafe to eat. If you choose to eat the hot dog anyway, you just may end up with a tummy-ache, or worse, you could end up with an infection that could yield some pretty nasty symptoms

Can You Get Sick From Eating Old Hot Dogs?

Yes, you can definitely get sick from eating old hot dogs. 

Listeria is commonly associated with the consumption of hot dogs and other deli meats, and as such, it is recommended that you heat both until they are steaming hot to kill any unsafe germs, especially for those of high-risk groups (such as pregnant women and the elderly). 

Afraid you may have contracted listeria from eating contaminated hot dogs or other ready-to-eat meats? Look for the following signs and symptoms: 

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Stiff Neck 
  • Flu-Like Symptoms 
  • Convulsions
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle Aches
brown bread with hotdogs

Can Old Hot Dogs Give You Food Poisoning?

Yes, old hot dogs can give you food poisoning. 

Remember that ingesting anything old, expired or past the use-by date has the propensity to cause you to fall ill. 

And because hot dogs, along with many other ready-to-eat foods, have a reputation for containing listeria-causing bacteria, it is best to skip eating old hot dogs and opt for something else. 

Can You Eat Expired Hot Dogs If They Were Frozen?

If you froze your hot dogs before expiration, then your hot dogs should be safe to consume after unthawing.

Bear in mind, however, that hot dogs are generally best consumed within 1-2 months of freezing. This isn’t because your hot dogs will become contaminated if left in the freezer, but rather, it is because they likely won’t taste as good or be as fresh after that time period.

How Can You Tell If Hot Dogs Are Bad?

It is best to assume that hot dogs are bad after 1-2 weeks past the best-by or use-by date.

Still, if you notice that your hot dogs are discolored, taste funny, smell funny, or have changed in texture, you’ll want to pitch them. Don’t take a risk on hot dogs that have the propensity to negatively impact your health. 

hotdog sandwiches on table

FAQ

Do hot dogs need to be refrigerated?

Yes, they do. Just as with most perishable cooked foods, you’ll want to store your hot dogs in the refrigerator within two hours of having bought them. This will cut down on the risks of harmful bacteria growing in your hot dogs.

 

Eating Expired Hot Dogs Is Risky Business…

Remember that though eating expired hot dogs may seem to be harmless, the reality is that doing so may put you at risk for developing infection or foodborne illness.

Because of this, you’ll want to avoid consuming hot dogs that have been open in your refrigerator for more than one week or that have been stored unopened in your refrigerator for more than two weeks. 

Moreover, avoid eating hot dogs that have gone 1-2 weeks past expiry; at this point, your hot dogs are unsafe to eat. 

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