Hot dogs are one of the classic American foods everyone loves to grill up on hot summer days, often eaten alongside another classic, the hamburger. But unlike hamburgers, which are packaged raw in most cases, it’s a little less clear whether or not hot dogs are pre-cooked before packaging. So, are they?
Hot dogs are pre-cooked before packaging. Hot dogs are a fully cooked meat product, so you can even eat them without cooking them first. If, for some reason, you want to eat a hot dog cold like this, you’re in luck. It’s perfectly safe.
So, we’ve addressed the main issue in the previous paragraph, but what about some other considerations for eating hot dogs?
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about hot dogs, including if you can eat hot dogs out of the package, tell if a hot dog is fully cooked, and whether or not you can get worms from eating cold hot dogs.
Can You Eat Hot Dogs Out of the Package?
As we briefly addressed earlier, it is safe to eat hot dogs raw or straight out of the package in most cases. This is because hot dogs are a fully precooked meat product, meaning the meat has been cooked before it was packaged and shipped to a store near you.
However, eating hot dogs out of the package may not always be safe. If a package of hot dogs has been left out of the refrigerator for a long period of time, such as two hours or longer, then bacteria may have already started to grow on them. If you eat a hotdog from the package that has been sitting out like this, you could run the risk of getting food poisoning.
You should also pay attention to the expiration date on the packaging. If the hot dogs are past the “best by” date, then chances are they are no longer safe to eat, especially straight out of the package. Expired meat products, hot dogs included, have had time to grow potentially dangerous bacteria or mold on their surface, which could make you very sick if ingested.
How Do You Tell If a Hot Dog is Fully Cooked?
As with any meat product, it can sometimes be tricky to tell whether or not it has been fully cooked. The good news with hot dogs is that each hot dog has been precooked fully before packaging, meaning they are generally safe to eat even if they haven’t been fully cooked after opening.
That said, a few ways to check to see if a hot dog has been fully “re-cooked” after it’s out of the package. One good surface level indicator of this is if each of the sides of the hot dog is browned and cooked to a crisp. This should usually mean that the inside is cooked as well.
Since a check on the surface level alone could be deceiving, you can cut the hotdog open to check the inside temperature. If it still feels cold or lukewarm to the touch, you may want to put it back on the grill for a minute or two. When fully re-cooked, a hotdog should be warm or hot all the way through.
Can You Get Worms From Eating Cold Hot Dogs?
As with any factory processed food item, there’s always a slim chance of contamination somewhere along the production line and on to shipping. These health hazards are normally caught quite quickly, as a mishap in this area could cost people their health, which would reflect poorly on the company brand that sells the food product.
Still, some things can go unnoticed and cause health concerns for customers who buy and consume the product. This is true for pork products like hotdogs, too. Worms are a parasite that can potentially infest any batch of processed food, especially certain meat products.
The good news is that worms are not normally spread through pork products. However, other parasites like trichinellosis may hitch a ride in your packaged hot dogs. Trichinella is technically a species of worm that tends to inhabit meat and does so in pork specifically. While this isn’t the typical worm species when people talk about “worms,” it is still a parasite that could make you very sick if ingested.
Thankfully the chances of this parasite being in your hotdogs are quite slim. It’s even less likely that it’ll cause any harm to you if you make sure to cook your hot dogs before eating them. If you choose to eat a cold hotdog, you may have an increased risk of contracting a parasite like trichinella.
Hotdogs are a polarizing food. While most people in North America agree that they’re a great classic grill food, many people simply don’t like them. Despite this, hot dogs are still one of the most consumed meat products in the United States, especially during summer. They are one of the quintessential grill meats of American cookouts, and millions of them are eaten yearly.
Because hotdogs are technically a precooked meat product, it’s even safe to eat them right out of the package, cold. Why anyone would want to do this is beyond us, though. They’re typically much safer to eat after having been thoroughly cooked all the way through. For tips on knowing if a hotdog has been cooked all the way, refer to our previous section, where we outline a few tips.
Even though it’s safer to eat hot dogs that have been cooked (again), you still should be fine if you choose to eat them straight out of the package. Your risk of contracting a parasite or bacterial infection will increase if you do this, though.
We hope this short guide to hot dogs has been helpful and educational! For more interesting facts, guides, and information, check out more articles on our website. Thanks for reading!