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by Neal Goulet on May 16, 2014

Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer – and the kickoff to hot dog season, which runs through Labor Day and includes National Hot Dog Month in July.

During the season, Americans typically consume 7 billion – yes, billion – hot dogs, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. That equates to 818 frankfurters per second.

On the Fourth of July alone, Americans eat enough wieners to stretch from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles – five times! Joey Chestnut, an American competitive eater, won his seventh straight Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in 2013, scarfing down a record 69 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

If hot dogs are on your menu this summer, then you should relish these tips for cooking and consuming them safely, courtesy of foodsafety.org:

1. After grilling, keep hot dogs hot (140 degrees or warmer) until served, such as in an oven set at 200 degrees, in a chafing dish, in slow cooker or on a warming tray.

2. Hot dogs are fully cooked right out of the package, but pregnant women and others who are at increased risk for foodborne illness should reheat hot dogs until steaming hot before eating because of the threat of listeriosis.

3. For children younger than 4, whole hot dogs can be a choking hazard. Cut hot dogs lengthwise or into small pieces before giving to children.

4. After buying hot dogs at the grocery store, head straight home and refrigerate or freeze them immediately. Never leave hot dogs at room temperature for more than two hours and no more than one hour when the temperature is more than 90 degrees.

5. Leftover hot dogs can be refrigerated safely for three or four days if done within two hours of heating or within one hour if the temperature is more than 90 degrees.

All of this talk about hot dogs is making us hungry.

Can someone please pass the mustard?

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