Are sausages safe to eat after the use-by date?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question “are sausages safe to eat after the use-by date?” and discuss the risk of eating expired sausages. 

Sausages may have different date labelings and some of them have no date labels. However, you should know when and how you can eat expired sausages.

Are sausages safe to eat after the use-by date?

Yes, sausages are safe to eat when there is no evident sign of spoilage. Although some sausages bring their expiration dates printed in the packaging, it is possible to consume the expired product if it was handled safely and kept refrigerated (at 40°F or below) or frozen (0°F or below) (1).

However, if there is any sign of spoilage, such as mold growth and bad odor, you should discard the sausage due to the potential health risk associated with the consumption of spoiled sausages.

What are the risks of eating expired sausages?

The risk of eating expired sausages is of experiencing a foodborne disease. Fermented sausages are commonly infected with pathogenic bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium botulinum, and Toxoplasma gondii (2), while uncooked sausages are hosts of Listeria monocytogenes, Enterococcus faecalis and Staphylococcus aureus (3) and viruses, such as hepatitis (4).

Consuming infected sausages or their toxins may cause foodborne illnesses, with possible symptoms being nausea, diarrhea and vomiting (2). 

Spoiled sausages may also contain biogenic amines, which are compounds possibly resulting from the infection by pseudomonas and enterobacteria in sausages due to improper handling. Histamine and tyramine are the most common biogenic amines found in sausages (2).

The ingestion of high amounts of biogenic amines may cause certain diseases. 

In addition, sausages are also susceptible to fungal spoilage, which produce toxigenic mycotoxins. Penicillium is a common fungus that grows on the surface of sausages.

How to know if sausage is spoiled?

To know if sausages are spoiled, you should be able to identify possible signs of spoilage. These can manifest by changes in the odor, flavor, appearance or texture. The possible indications that sausages are spoiled are (2,5,6):

  • Generation of off-odors and off-flavor related to attributes such as moldy, acid, rancid, putrid or pungent
  • Formation of a slimy surface
  • Growth of mold on the surface (colored grayish whitish spots)
  • Generation of gas in vacuum packed sausages
  • Changes in the color and texture 

What is the shelf life of sausages?

Sausages crus (fresh sausages)

Fresh sausages have a shelf life of 2 days in the fridge and 2 months when frozen. However, if left at room temperature for more than two hours, they should be discarded (7).

Cooking the freshly bought sausage may increase its shelf life to 4 days in the fridge and 3 months when frozen.

Hot dogs or cooked sausages (such as kielbasa)

The shelf life of unopened packages of sausages is 2 weeks. Once opened, the shelf life is reduced to one week in the refrigerator or for 2 months in the freezer (1). Hot dogs are already cooked foods and therefore unheated hot dogs have the same shelf life as heated ones. However, if left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours, it is recommended to discard cooked sausages.

Sausages that have been dried or pepperoni

Dried sausages have a shelf life of 3 weeks in the refrigerator and 2 months in the freezer (7).


Unopened packages of salami have a shelf life of 2 weeks in the refrigerator. After opening, the shelf life is up to 5 days. Although freezing is not recommended, salami can be stored in the freezer for 2 months (7).

How to increase the safety of consuming expired sausages?

To increase the safety of consuming expired sausages, once ensuring they are not spoiled, you should cook the sausages to a temperature of 165°F or higher (1,6).

In the case of cooked hot dogs as deli meats, reheat them in the microwave prior to the consumption to improve safety.

Heating is a method to reduce the risks of foodborne diseases, as it can eliminate many types of pathogenic bacteria. The consumption of undercooked meat products is related to food outbreaks of Salmonella and other dangerous pathogens (2).

Other FAQs about Sausages that you may be interested in.

Can you eat summer sausage casing?

Can you cook Italian sausage in the microwave?

How to cook frankfurters in the microwave?


In this short article, we provided an answer to the question “are sausages safe to eat after the use-by date?”and discussed the risk of eating expired sausages. 


  1. Hot dogs and food safety. United States Department of Agriculture.
  2. Holck, Askild, et al. Health and safety considerations of fermented sausages. J Food Quality,  2017.
  3. Gelinski, Jane Mary Lafayette Neves, et al. Control of pathogens in fresh pork sausage by inclusion of Lactobacillus sakei BAS0117. Canadian j microbiol, 2019, 65, 831-841.
  4. Colson, Philippe, et al. Pig liver sausage as a source of hepatitis E virus transmission to humans. J infect dis, 2010, 202, 825-834.
  5. Lorenzo, José Manuel, Mario Bedia, and Sancho Bañón. Relationship between flavour deterioration and the volatile compound profile of semi-ripened sausage. Meat science, 2013, 93, 614-620.
  6. Rawat, Seema. Food Spoilage: Microorganisms and their prevention. Asian j plant sci Res, 2015, 5, 47-56.
  7. Food keeper. United States Department of Agriculture. 

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