It might seem crazy, but sometimes hot dogs can turn from a healthy red to a slightly off, greenish color. Is that OK?
A Few Things Could Have Happened
Because there are a few possibilities the answer to if these hot dogs are safe is, “It depends.”
First of all, there are some brands of hot dogs that are green. These are usually some sort of green sausage, like a ramp sausage, which looks like a hot dog but isn’t a traditional dog you’d get in the supermarket. You’d mostly see these in a butcher counter or a restaurant and they would be as safe a you’d expect from that butcher or restaurant.
Mold On Hot Dogs
Second, you might have bought a hot dog that has spoiled and gotten moldy. This is more likely if you have a nitrate-free hot dog or one make by your local butcher. This can also happen if you open a package of hot dogs, don’t cook them all, and then throw the bag in the fridge for a few weeks, perhaps forgetting it in the back of a draw. If any of this sounds remotely like your situation then the hot dogs are not safe and they should be thrown out.
The mold will likely be white, grey, or green and it will be scatter over the surface of the hot dog, not perfectly uniform across the entire surface of hot dog.
If the hot dog looks or smells in any way off, you’ll want to toss it. If you were to accidentally eat the hot dog after a thorough cook you might not get sick (or at least not too sick) but you don’t want to take the chance with eating spoiled food, especially a preserved meat product.
Grey Hot Dogs
Lastly, some hot dogs use dyes to get their wonderful ruby red coloring. If you boil these hot dogs sometimes the dye can be removed, staying in the water instead of the meat of the hot dog. If the hot dog is missing its coloring it might start to look grayish, perhaps even a little bit green if the light it right. If this is the case with your hot dog then it should be safe to eat.
This last situation is the most common question about green hot dogs and it’s normally nothing to worry about. It’s most common in cafeterias, camps, church socials, and other places where the quality of the hot dogs might not be impeccable and the dogs are being boiled in bulk, not fried or griddled.
All in all, green hot dogs are a bit of a gamble. If you choose to eat them, make sure to check the ingredients list carefully and cook them thoroughly before eating. And if you’re still not sure whether or not they’re safe to eat, your best bet is to err on the side of caution and avoid them altogether.