What happens if you eat expired hot dogs?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question “what happens if you eat expired hot dogs?”. Moreover, we will discuss the signs of spoilage and the health consequences of eating spoiled hot dogs.

What happens if you eat expired hot dogs?

Eating expired hot dogs can potentially lead to different foodborne illnesses (1). You should not eat expired hot dogs as this can make you very sick.

The expiration date on food products indicates the estimated period of time within which the item is at its peak quality. It is highly recommended to avoid eating hot dogs after their expiration date.

If hot dogs have passed their expiration date, there is a higher risk of bacterial growth, such as Listeria or Salmonella, which can cause food poisoning (1-2).

Consuming expired hot dogs may result in symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever, which are typical of food poisoning (3).

The severity of these symptoms can vary depending on the individual’s overall health (4) and the extent of bacterial contamination in the hot dogs.

Remember that your safety comes first, so you should avoid eating expired food in general.

What should you do if you accidentally eat expired hot dogs?

If you accidentally eat expired hot dogs, you should first monitor your symptoms closely.

If you experience mild symptoms such as stomach discomfort or mild diarrhea, you can typically manage them at home with rest and plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration (5).

In case of more severe symptoms like persistent vomiting, high fever, or bloody diarrhea, it is advisable to seek medical attention promptly. This will help you to determine the best course of action based on your specific situation.

A medical professional will help you to select the best treatment such as over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms or prescribe antibiotics if a bacterial infection is suspected.

What are the signs of spoilage in expired hot dogs?

Signs of spoilage in expired hot dogs can vary according to several factors, including the specific ingredients used, the storage conditions, and the duration of expiration.

However, there are some common indicators to look out for such as:

  • One of the first signs is a noticeable change in color. Expired hot dogs may appear dull, discolored, or have a grayish or greenish tinge. 
  • Another sign of spoilage is a change in texture. Expired hot dogs can become slimy, sticky, or develop a mushy consistency. 
  • Foul or off-putting odors are also a clear indication of spoilage. If the hot dogs have a strong, unpleasant smell, it is likely they have gone bad.
  • Mold growth is another visible sign of spoilage. If you notice any fuzzy patches or discoloration on the hot dogs, it’s best to discard them. 

remember that molds produce dangerous mycotoxins that can make you very sick (6)

It’s important to remember that these signs may not always be present, especially if the hot dogs have been stored improperly or if they are still within the early stages of spoilage. 

Thus, when in doubt, it is safer to discard expired hot dogs rather than risk consuming them. Remember: your safety comes first!

How to properly handle hot dogs to avoid spoilage?To properly handle your hot dogs and minimize the risk of spoilage, you can follow the next recommendations:

  1. First, always check the expiration date on the package before purchasing or consuming hot dogs. It is crucial to avoid buying or using hot dogs that have already expired.
  1. Proper storage is essential to maintain the freshness of hot dogs. Refrigerate hot dogs promptly after purchasing or opening the package. Keep them in a sealed container or resealable bag to prevent exposure to air and potential contamination.
  1. Maintain a refrigerator temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below to inhibit bacterial growth. Avoid storing hot dogs in the refrigerator door, as the temperature fluctuates more frequently compared to the main compartment.
  1. Hot dogs generally have a shelf life of around 2 weeks when refrigerated and unopened. However, it’s important to refer to the manufacturer’s label for specific guidance. 

Once opened, hot dogs should be consumed within 3 to 5 days to ensure freshness and minimize the risk of spoilage.

  1. When handling hot dogs, practice good hygiene (7). Wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching hot dogs or any food products. Ensure that all utensils, cutting boards, and surfaces used for preparing hot dogs are clean to prevent cross-contamination.
  1. If you have leftover hot dogs, store them properly in the refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking. Place them in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in foil or plastic wrap to maintain their quality and reduce the risk of spoilage.

By following these guidelines for proper handling and storage, you can extend the shelf life of your hot dogs, thus minimizing the risk of spoilage, and ensuring their freshness and safety when consuming them.


In this short article, we provided an answer to the question “what happens if you eat expired hot dogs?”. Moreover, we discussed the signs of spoilage and the health consequences of eating spoiled hot dogs.


1. Graves LM, Hunter SB, Ong AR, Schoonmaker-Bopp D, Hise K, Kornstein L, et al. Microbiological aspects of the investigation that traced the 1998 outbreak of listeriosis in the United States to contaminated hot dogs and establishment of molecular subtyping-based surveillance for Listeria monocytogenes in the PulseNet network. J Clin Microbiol [Internet]. 2005 May [cited 2023 Jun 23];43(5):2350–5. Available from: https://journals.asm.org/doi/full/10.1128/jcm.43.5.2350-2355.2005 

2. Bintsis T. Foodborne pathogens. AIMS Microbiol [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2023 May 16];3(3):529. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6604998/ 

3. Milaciu M V, Ciumărnean L, Orășan OH, Para I, Alexescu T, Negrean V. Semiology of food poisoning. Int J Bioflux Soc [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 May 10];8(2):108–13. Available from: http://hvm.bioflux.com.ro/docs/2015.108-113.pdf 

4. Lennard LB. Food microbiology and food poisoning. In: Food & Nutrition [Internet]. Taylor & francis Gr…. Routledge; 2020 [cited 2023 May 30]. p. 132–54. Available from: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003115663-11/food-microbiology-food-poisoning-louise-lennard 

5. McRobert GR. THE TREATMENT OF BACTERIAL FOOD POISONING. Br Med J [Internet]. 1934 Aug 8 [cited 2023 May 10];2(3841):304. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2445530/ 

6. Dantigny P, Conika M, Fontana A, Schorr-Galindo S. Mycotoxins during Consumer Food Storage. Mycotoxins Food Beverages Innov Adv Part I [Internet]. 2021 Jun 10 [cited 2023 May 31];51–68. Available from: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.1201/9781003035817-3/mycotoxins-consumer-food-storage-philippe-dantigny-monika-conika-angélique-fontana-sabine-schorr-galindo 

7. Beumer RR, Kusumaningrum H. Kitchen hygiene in daily life. Int Biodeterior Biodegradation [Internet]. 2003 Jun 1 [cited 2023 Apr 24];51(4):299–302. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0964830503000416 

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