Can you eat summer sausage raw?
In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat summer sausage raw?” and discuss why it is safe to eat summer sausage raw and when you should not eat summer sausage raw.
Can you eat summer sausage raw?
Yes, you can eat summer sausage raw. In fact, summer sausages are not raw, rather they are fermented to a pH of below 4.6 and then cooked in order to effectively reduce the risks of contamination by critical pathogenic bacteria Escherichia coli (3).
Fermented sausages are considered safe. They have been safe to consume without additional cooking for decades (4). However, individuals who have weakened immune systems, such as pregnant women, elderly, infants and immunosuppressed people are advised to cook summer sausage prior to consumption (1).
Why is it safe to eat summer sausage raw?
It is safe to eat summer sausage raw due to its production process, which improves its safety, resulting in a product which can be consumed without additional cooking.
It is important to notice that the risks of foodborne diseases exist for every food, due to contamination occurring during and after the production process, due to improper handling or insufficient hygienic conditions.
However, if correctly produced, summer sausage has an improved safety when compared to other types of sausage, such as bologna sausage or uncooked sausages, due to the cooking and fermentation processes (4,6).
Summer sausages undergo cooking followed by fermentation for several hours and curing for several days (1,6). The fermentation through addition of lactic acid bacteria is able to reduce the pH of the sausage, inhibiting the growth of pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and Escherichia coli (1,3).
Besides, manufacturers add preservatives such as sodium nitrite, sodium erythorbate and natural ingredients with antibacterial properties to improve the shelf life and safety of the summer sausage.
According to studies, during the curing process, the microbial load of summer sausage is reduced, which demonstrates the effectiveness of the production process in its safety (1).
What are the risks of eating summer sausage raw?
The risks of eating summer sausage raw are experiencing a foodborne disease, in the cases where the summer sausage has not been properly produced, the safety requirements were not totally achieved (by the cooking and fermenting), by improper storage or unhygienic handling of the sausage.
The ingredients used in summer sausage can be contaminated by Salmonella and other pathogens and if the sausage is not properly produced or not sufficiently cooked, the risks of the sausage to cause food outbreaks exist (5).
Is it necessary to keep summer sausage refrigerated?
No, it is not necessary to keep summer sausage refrigerated for a short period of storage. However, it is recommended to refrigerate the summer sausage for prolonged storage and also to improve its safety and shelf life.
It is also recommended to consult the manufacturer and follow the “use-by” date of consumption, as well as to follow the storage instructions, as not all manufacturers produce summer sausage in the same way or use the same ingredients. if you’re unsure whether your sausage needs to be refrigerated (1,4,7).
You can also check the packaging to see if it says “Refrigerate after opening,” in which case you can store it in the pantry until you’re ready to use it. Put it in the fridge if it indicates it needs to be refrigerated.
However, although summer sausages that have been cooked and fermented, the safety recommendations require that it should be stored in the refrigerator after production is finished, that is, after being smoked, cooked and cooled.
Refrigeration will increase the safe consumption of the product and reduce risks of growth of pathogenic bacteria. The shelf life of summer sausage is,according to the United States Department of Agriculture, 3 months when kept unopened in the fridge, 3 weeks after being opened in the fridge and 1 to 2 months in the freezer, after being opened (4).
Other FAQs about Sausages that you may be interested in.
In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat summer sausage raw?” and discussed why it is safe to eat summer sausage raw and when you should not eat summer sausage raw.
- Ingham, Steven C., et al. Survival of Listeria monocytogenes during storage of ready-to-eat meat products processed by drying, fermentation, and/or smoking. J food protec, 2004, 67, 2698-2702.
- Hill, D. E., et al. Rapid inactivation of Toxoplasma gondii bradyzoites during formulation of dry cured ready-to-eat pork sausage. Food Waterborne Parasitol, 2018, 12, e00029.
- Mohan, Anand. Basics of sausage making, Formulation, Processing and safety. UGA Extension Bulletin, 2014, 1437, 5-8.
- Sausages and Food Safety. United States Department of Agriculture.
- Sauer, Charles J., et al. Foodborne illness outbreak associated with a semi-dry fermented sausage product. J Food Protect, 1997, 60, 1612-1617.
- Utama, Dicky Tri, et al. Effect of ground chopi (Zanthoxylum piperitum) on physicochemical traits and microbial community of chicken summer sausage during manufacture. Korean j food sci anim res, 2018, 38, 936.