News Release Distributed 06/25/12The Fourth of July is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year, with Americans downing an estimated 155 million wieners. Although Americans enjoy hot dogs all year long, we eat an estimated seven billion between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
If your holiday plans include hot dogs, LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames offers information that may help you make nutritious choices.
Most regular hot dogs contain 10 to 15 grams of fat, Reames says. To lower the fat content, choose low-fat or fat-free hot dogs. The low-fat dogs often contain half the fat of regular, while fat-free varieties contain less than a half gram of fat per serving.
Chicken and turkey dogs don't necessarily contain less fat than the regular hot dogs, Reames says, so read the label to compare products.
Vegetarians and vegans can enjoy hot dogs made from soy products, such as tofu.
Although most hot dogs are high in sodium, some lower-sodium varieties are available. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend limiting sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day.
Remember that condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup and chili are also high in sodium, so use these sparingly, Reames says.
Because hot dogs are among the foods associated with choking among children, experts often recommend not feeding hot dogs to children under 3. For children of all ages, Reames says, cut the hot dog to appropriate sizes and watch children eat to ensure they do not choke.
To prevent listeriosis, a foodborne illness that has been associated with ready-to-eat processed foods, the USDA recommends heating hot dogs to at least 165 degrees.
This is especially important for at-risk individuals, including pregnant women, those who are immune compromised and the elderly, Reames says.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, listeriosis, which usually is caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.
Reames recommends other food safety guidelines for hot dogs, including:
–When you leave the grocery store with hot dogs, head straight home and refrigerate or freeze them immediately.
–Eat hot dogs by the product use-by date. If there is no product date, hot dogs can be safely stored in the unopened package for two weeks in the refrigerator and one week after opening.
–For maximum quality, freeze hot dogs no longer than one or two months.
–Never leave hot dogs at room temperature for more than two hours and no more than one hour when the temperature goes above 90 degrees.
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