Can you get sick from eating expired hot dogs? 

In this brief guide, we’ll address the search query: “Can you get sick from eating expired hot dogs?” Also, we’ll explore how hot dogs are made, how they should be stored, how to tell if hot dogs have spoiled, and what are the risks of eating spoiled hot dogs. 

Can you get sick from eating expired hot dogs? 

Yes. Processed meats such as hot dogs can make people sick when contaminated with harmful bacteria, and spoiled hot dogs are an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and multiply exponentially. 

Eating spoiled hot dogs can trigger an infection, or food poisoning-like symptoms, caused by toxins that bacteria and other microbes may secrete. Microbes may be destroyed by cooking, but their byproducts may remain and trigger symptoms if ingested. 

Symptoms of food poisoning include fever, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, vomiting, abdominal cramps, dehydration, muscle aches, and other complications in patients with preexisting health conditions. 

Symptoms may occur within hours or days of ingesting contaminated meat, depending on the intake of inoculum. 

How are hot dogs made? 

Hot dogs are processed meat that is made with three core ingredients, which are the meat (often sourced from trimmings of various types such as beef, pork, turkey, chicken, and even fish), salt and seasoning agents, and additives that are used to preserve the meat and give it its signature pink hue. 

Oftentimes, the quality of the meat used to make hot dogs is reflected in the product’s price tag, as some may be better suited to making comfort food, while other sausages may be of gourmet quality. 

  • The meat -: oftentimes the meat is sourced from scraps made when meat processing plants source cuts such as steak, ribs, brisket, tenderloin, etc. 

Ideally, these trimmings are of comparable quality as the rest of the meat, but due to their irregular size, they’re considered scraps and used to make secondary products such as hot dogs.

  • Salt and seasonings: Hot dogs are made with flavoring agents such as salt (table salt, sea salt, organic salts) and seasonings. Each brand has its own seasoning formulations which give its products a signature taste. In addition to seasonings, hot dogs may be formulated with sweeteners, to further broaden their palatability.
  • Fillers, binder, and preservatives – these ingredients are used to increase the shelf-life of hot dogs, and may be used as coloring agents. Often, hot dogs can be made with nitrites and nitrates. 

We encourage our readers to review the ingredients of the hot dogs they purchase, and take careful note of any additives or preservatives, as they may not be ideal for regular consumption. 

How should hot dogs be stored? 

Hot dogs should be stored in refrigeration, or if bought in bulk, they can be placed within a freezer. 

Sealed packages that will be readily consumed may be stored in refrigeration, and cooked before the use-by date has elapsed. They can be stored in re-sealable freezer bags if their original packaging does not have a sealing option. 

In refrigeration, unopened hot dogs can keep for up to two weeks. 

Alternatively, hot dogs can be frozen for long-term storage and can keep for up to six months at peak freshness. They can be taken out and placed on a grill or skillet sans defrosting and cooked per the reader’s taste. 

Regardless of whether they’re frozen or refrigerated, our readers need to be certain that the hot dog’s packaging is tightly sealed, sans any openings. Exposure to chilled air can have desiccating effects that can shorten their shelf-life. 

How can I tell if hot dogs have spoiled? 

Tell-tale signs that indicate if hot dogs have gone bad include them having a slimy texture, a sour, or off smell, and the liquid in the package having a milk-like appearance. Our readers may also note that the hot dogs begin to show discoloration once they’ve begun to spoil. Pink can transition to red shades, or in some cases, the meat can turn gray.

What are the risks of eating spoiled hot dogs? 

Despite being processed, spoiled hot dogs can be a prime source of disease-causing bacteria, which can trigger symptoms of food poisoning

Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, exhaustion, dehydration, muscle aches, headaches, etc. 

Doctors may address the cause with a course of antibiotics and in severe cases, hydration with intravenous fluids may be necessary. 

We encourage our readers to prioritize their health and promptly discard hot dogs that may show signs of spoilage. 


In this brief guide, we’ve addressed the search query: “Can you get sick from eating expired hot dogs?” Also, we’ve explored how hot dogs are made, how they should be stored, how to tell if hot dogs have spoiled, and what are the risks of eating spoiled hot dogs. 


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