Hot dogs are incredibly popular. They’re a classic snack to be enjoyed when you’re walking through town, at a ball game or at your friend’s barbecue. They’re so easy to hold and to eat and the best thing of all – they taste great!
The thing is, we all know how long it takes to cook a hot dog, and sometimes we simply can’t wait that long! We want to eat them right now!
But is that okay? Can you eat raw hot dogs? And if so, what would happen?
This article looks at the safety behind eating raw hot dogs and answers all of your questions about the safety and potential dangers of doing so.
So, pull up a chair and read on as we explore if you can eat raw hot dogs.
What Exactly Is A Hot Dog?
Most of us will be familiar with a hot dog. They’re sausages that are normally placed into a thin, long bun that is then covered in mustard and ketchup or other toppings that the consumer wishes.
However, a lot of people might not be aware of what is actually in a hot dog. Typically, American hot dogs are an amalgamation of a lot of different meats. This is usually the cuttings or the leftovers of other meats that won’t make the grade for a roasting joint or a great steak.
As a result, the shapes and sizes of the meats aren’t in any sort of the desired shape and most hot dogs are made from skeletal meat – so the meat needs to go through a grinder and then have salt, water and nitrates added to them.
They are then shaped as they are in a “mush” state and given the hot dog look that you’re expecting. This shape along with the addition of salt and nitrates makes the hot dog appear pink but also tastes the way that we all know and love.
Can You Eat A Raw Hot Dog Then?
After the processes we talked about have occurred, the producer will then decide to cook them or to leave them as they are. This is where the terms cured and uncured come into play.
If the packaging of the hot dogs says it is uncured, this is 100% raw, and you should never eat these. If however, the packing indicates that the hot dogs were precooked, you technically can eat them raw, but you really shouldn’t.
There’s a reason why we cook hot dogs. It’s not just because it brings out their amazing flavors, but it is to ensure any potentially harmful bacteria have been cooked off entirely and prevents, or at least significantly reduces, the risks of getting sick.
It’s important to note here that the same logic applies to most foods. If you suspect you shouldn’t eat something raw, you’d be best off cooking it.
It’s also crucial to recognize that pregnant women should avoid deli meats like hot dogs altogether. There is a chance of other bacteria being harmful to a person’s pregnancy. Although this risk is low, it is not worth it.
The recommendation is also for people with ill-health to avoid hot dogs too, such as AIDS patients and cancer patients. Basically, any person with a compromised immune system might fall seriously and potentially fatally ill.
Potential Risks Of Eating Raw Hot Dogs
If you’re super lucky, you might get away with not getting sick at all, or having very mild sickness. The thing is though, this is if you’re very lucky. Generally, a healthy adult can take a small amount of the harmful bacteria found in uncooked hot dogs and not become too affected.
However, mainly people will become impacted by foodborne illnesses which are present in uncooked meats. Even though nitrates are added to prevent the growth of certain bacteria during the processing stage, this will not make the meat safe.
One of these harmful bacteria is called Listeria, and it can make you very sick. Consumption of these bacteria can bring about the following symptoms:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Reduced appetite
- Sleeping problems
The bacteria Listeria is commonly found in places like mud and dirty water, but it is also common to find in animal poop. This is likely due to animals using water sources for hydration and to bathe.
It usually does not harm animals, but to humans, it can be deadly. In the most extreme cases, a person might experience all the symptoms of food poisoning we’ve listed above, but they might also develop sepsis.
This is a blood infection that is very difficult to treat and normally results in a person’s death. So, to avoid any chance of this – cook your hot dogs!!
How To Consume Hot Dogs Safely
To ensure you avoid this type of food poisoning, the best thing you can do is to cook your hot dogs thoroughly. The internal temperature of a hot dog should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit before it is considered definitely safe.
The sure-fire way to guarantee this is by using a meat-probe thermometer which you can pick up from most grocery stores.
Always try to source your hot dogs from reputable places too. It’s advised you go directly to a butcher’s shop who will be able to tell you all the information you need to know and can tell you the best possible way to cook your hot dogs.
The Bottom Line
Although there are some types of hot dogs that you can eat raw, you should avoid eating any raw hot dogs to curtail the chances of serious food poisoning.
The sure-fire way to know you’re safe when you’re cooking a hot dog is to have the best meat and make sure it’s cooked to the correct temperature, which you can check with a heat probe.
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