Will re-sealed sausages kill me?
August 5, 2011 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Do hot dogs and sausages go bad faster once the package has been opened?

If I open a package of hot dogs with an expiration date 1 week out, cook a couple of them, and put the rest in a zip lock bag, will the leftovers still be good in a week? (I realize that food doesn't instantly go bad the day the expiration date hits -- I just mean, does opening and re-sealing accelerate spoilage in any significant way?)
posted by sharding to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hot dogs don't go bad. They just dry out.

Sausages... depend on what you mean by sausages.

And if you keep either in the fridge, seriously, don't worry about it. Preserved meats will last years, nevermind what the package says.
posted by pla at 7:07 PM on August 5, 2011

Yes, any time you open the packaging, you're letting bacteria and mold spores in. Nitrite-laden meat is a pretty hostile environment for microorganisms, but they'll eventually overcome it. No preservative can withstand them forever.
posted by TungstenChef at 7:14 PM on August 5, 2011

Yes, they have the potential to go bad faster once you open the package due to the possible introduction of microbes. Generally I don't keep hot dogs around for more than a week after the package has been opened, but eating them a week later should be fine provided that they don't look/smell odd and you heat them thoroughly.
posted by emd3737 at 7:20 PM on August 5, 2011

They freeze really well, so you could put them in the freezer pretty indefinitely.
posted by advicepig at 7:34 PM on August 5, 2011

always heat them super thoroughly, hot dogs can and do grow listeria.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:35 PM on August 5, 2011

I imagine hotdogs are packaged in a modified atmosphere, so once you open the package and expose the food to normal air you lose the preservative benefits the packaging has provided.
posted by hot soup girl at 7:38 PM on August 5, 2011

I've had several dietitians tell me that hot dogs and other prepared meats are only safe for about 3 days.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 7:42 PM on August 5, 2011

It takes me about three weeks to go through a pack of hotdogs from the fridge (not even ziplocked, just folded over and propped up so they don't leak). They will eventually go bad after a longer time (last food poisoning I had was from a way old hotdog). You'll be fine for a good while.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:47 PM on August 5, 2011

I usually freeze them after opening. I usually boil hotdogs to heat them, so I just throw them in the pot straight out of the freezer and boil them a little longer to make sure heated through OK. I've never had a problem and they last damn near forever in the freezer.
posted by wwax at 7:50 PM on August 5, 2011

Even before you open the package, hot dogs will go bad if kept in the fridge for longer than about two weeks. Once you open them, I'd chop that time in half. Then again, I'm defining "bad" as "no longer desirable to consume", not necessarily as "unhealthy and likely to make you ill". But even with that definition, I wouldn't eat them from an unopened package after about 3 weeks and from an opened package after a week and a half or so. I always keep hot dogs in the freezer for this very reason. I just take out however many I need and either defrost them in the microwave or cook them longer to get the cold out.

With sausages it depends a lot on the packaging and type of sausage I think. American breakfast sausages (links or patties) usually come frozen in cardboard boxes, and they're meant to be stored in the freezer. I can't imagine that if the boxes were stored in the fridge that they'd do much to ward out bacteria and molds and such, as they're not really air tight at all. If you're talking about Kielbasa type sausages, they come vacuum sealed like hot dogs so I imagine the spoilage times are similar.
posted by katyggls at 9:23 PM on August 5, 2011

Someday I'll tell you about the time I kept the Family Size case of hot dogs in the trunk of my car for a few weeks after an aborted post-HS-graduation camping trip. You know, like in July.

Rest assured they go bad, so horribly bad, in a way that I utterly deserved.
posted by tremspeed at 2:22 AM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I freeze both hot dogs and sausages if I am not using them all, and it works fine. Put them in a freezer bag and they keep a long time.
posted by mermayd at 4:56 AM on August 6, 2011

Foods are preserved to stay "good" only when sealed in their packaging. There is a reason hot dogs are vacuum packed, and that is to prevent aerobic bacteria from growing. When you open the package, you expose the hot dogs to the world, begging the bacteria to go nuts on the tube-steaks.

Actual sausages, sealed in casings, are a different story.
posted by gjc at 6:51 AM on August 6, 2011

If they don't smell bad, and have no signs of mold, you'll be fine; if you grill your sausages enough (slice 'em in half lengthwise, to be sure) you'll be killing anything nasty.
posted by Rash at 9:14 AM on August 6, 2011

I'm an avid dumpster diver and probably more familiar with how well expired food keeps than 99% of the American population.

If you get sick from eating that meat, it's not because of the fact that they are expired or re-opened/re-sealed. If you get sick from eating them, you would have gotten sick from eating them in the first place :)

A more important factor than sealing/re-sealing is how long they were not refrigerated.
posted by Patrick Leo at 11:02 PM on August 6, 2011

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