Food Safety Issues/Hot Dogs


I have a package of hot dogs that have been refrigerated throughout and have not been opened  The package says "use by or freeze by" by date was December 30th/2012   Can I still eat them I was thing of cutting them up and putting the in my baked beans.

Hi Mike,

The recommendation on deli meats including hot dogs is to not consume them if refrigerated past the "use by date."  If you had frozen the hot dogs before that date, then they could be used upon defrosting in the refrigerator, but should be used within 2-3 days of total defrost.

The reason for the recommendation to not use hot dogs past their "use by" date is that they are capable of supporting the growth of Listeria, a bacteria that can grow at refrigerator temperatures.  Because Listeria is often associated with deli meats and hot dogs, it is vitally important that these items be consumed by their "best if used by" date.  In addition, once you open the package you should use the hot dogs/deli meats within 7 days, but not past the "best if used by" date.  In other words, if you open the package of hot dogs on 2/16 and the best if used by date is 2/18, you should use the dogs within 2 days.  But if you open the dogs 2/2 and the best if used by date is 2/18, then you can refrigerate and use them for 7 days (2/9) and any remaining ones after 2/9 should be destroyed.

For more information on Listeria, please see:



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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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