Monday, February 16, 2015

The one kind of food that I will not eat after the sell-by date

You all know that many foods are still "safe" to eat after the sell-by date. But there is one type of food that many experts agree that you should NOT eat after a use-by date.

That is cured, packaged meat, like cold cuts and hot dogs. The issue with these meats is listeria, a bacteria that unlike many other germs, can grow even in the cold of the refrigerator.

And this isn't just a phobic reaction on my part. Listeriosis is serious. Here's a link to foodsafety.gov with more information on this type of infection. Read for yourself, and you decide.

I did have to throw away some hot dogs, a while back, because I let them go a couple of weeks beyond the use-by date. I hated to throw them out, but it was one of those instances of better safe than sorry. If those hot dogs were just one or two days past the use-by date, it's possible that I could have just boiled the bejeebers out of them, insured a high internal temperature, and then maybe they'd have been "safe" to eat. However, these were about 2 weeks past that date, and I was taking no chances. There's a good chance that they would have tasted off by this time, anyways.


So, what do I do when I find a great deal on soon to expire hot dogs or lunch meat? I freeze these items the same day I purchase them. When I'm shopping, I have to factor in, "do I have time today to repackage this, if necessary, before freezing?" Only really an issue with large packages of meat, but I do need to think this through. Fortunately, with hot dogs, they can just be tossed in the freezer, and somewhat easily used one at a time, pried apart, even while still frozen. I just had a lapse with that package a couple of month ago.

How about you? Would you eat hot dogs or lunch meat past the use-by date? Do you think I'm just being overly cautious? Have you ever had food poisoning? Did it turn you off from eating that food ever again? I won't eat Vienna Sausages, after a very bad episode with them many years ago.

12 comments:

  1. I'm pretty picky about this sort of thing, but would still eat those items past the best-by date in some situations. One being the item will be heated before using, such as in hot dogs or fried bologna. The other thing to keep in mind is that these things have so many preservatives that they aren't likely to go bad quickly. That said, due to all those preservatives, we don't eat them often...catch 22, lol.

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    1. Hi Cat,
      I think with me, the main reason I won't eat a hot dog (or other to-be cooked, cured meat) when past it's use-by date is I'm not sure if I've cooked it long enough.

      To kill listeria, a food needs to be cooked to 158 degrees F, and kept at that temp for at least 2 minutes. Hot dogs are supposed to cooked to 160 F. Well, I don't use a meat thermometer on hot dogs, and there's no visible way of telling how cooked it is, the way fresh beef, chicken and other meats' juices change color, or fish becomes more opaque in appearance. So, I feel I'm better off wasting the money spent on the package of hot dogs, than enduring a severe case of food poisoning.

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  2. I freeze foods like that which are close to the use-by date. If it's over the date, I pitch them. Never had food poisoning, never want to get it. Landing yourself in the hospital is not a frugal activity.

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    1. Hi Kris,
      I usually do freeze things like hot dogs. I don't know why or how that package slipped past me, but it did. And I agree, I'd rather lose a dollar than spend a night in ER. I have had food poisoning before, and it was NOT fun.

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  3. I would have tossed them too, Lili. Better to be safe than sorry. I've been sick enough in my lifetime to know that I would never bring it on voluntarily, lol.

    I have successfully frozen hot dogs before though when I've found a good bargain on them.

    Now Cat has me wanting fried bologna. lol

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    1. Thanks, Belinda.
      Better safe than sorry is right.I'll be making sure our hot dogs go right into the freezer in the future.
      I've never tried fried bologna. I guess that would taste much like hot dogs.

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  4. I must be the renegade here or we all have a cast iron stomach. I never toss hot dogs and have eaten them up to a couple of weeks beyond the use by date. I cut them into coins and put them in either kraut or baked beans. That way they cook a while and hit a safe internal temp without drying out.
    Thanks for this post, it reminded me to check the use by date on some chicken sausages I have in the meat drawer. I have 3 days to finish them within the date given!

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    1. Hi Anne,
      I so envy people like you with those cast iron stomachs!
      But that's a great idea for making sure the hot dogs get heated all the way through.

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  5. I don't think I've ever tossed lunch meat or hot dogs. I don't usually pay attention to the date because it's usually months out and they have so many chemicals in them. With that being said, I do freeze them pretty quickly if I'm not going to use them right away. However, if I have some close to the expiration date, I am going to start using the meat thermometer on them. Thanks for the info.

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      You're right, the expiration date is usually months into the future. Maybe that's how that one package slipped past me.

      I think this summer, I'm going to use the meat thermometer when we cook out, just to see if we're getting our hot dogs to the right temperature. some members of the family like theirs charred, so those are probably in the right temp zone or hotter, but other members of the family seem to like the hot dogs just warmed through. It would be good to know just how hot we're getting them.

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  6. We don't eat a lot of hot dogs but we always freeze them right after purchase. When we want to eat them, they go right from freezer to the pot with boiling water. Deli meats, well, we like getting a whole ham, or turkey breast and have the deli slice the whole thing for us. We take it home and freeze them in usable portions. They thaw and become soaked in their own liquid so we put them in a container that has a sieve-like bottom to separate the juice from the meat. We have about 5-6 days worth of deli meat thawed at a time and that's not enough for it to spoil.

    One thing I am worried about is boiled eggs. How long can they sit in the fridge without them spoiling. I boiled eggs last week and noticed them in the corner of the fridge yesterday. How many days do you suppose boiled eggs are good for?

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      Everything I've read says to use boiled eggs within 1 week. However, I know we have pushed that to 10 days before. Oddly, once you cook the eggs, their "shelf" life becomes much less than uncooked eggs.

      I am definitely going to make sure we freeze those hot dogs each and every time, from here on out. Sometimes it takes a mistake like this for me to really learn a lesson, and change behaviors.

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