Summer sausage, kielbasa, bologna, bratwurst: The list goes on and on. There are so many varieties of sausage. How long can you store them — and where? Are they fully cooked or not? The following background information will answer these questions and others. Use the chart as a guideline for safe storage.
Types of Sausages
Sausages are either uncooked or ready to eat. They can be made from red meat (for example, beef, pork, lamb, or veal), poultry (turkey or chicken, for example) or a combination. Uncooked sausages include fresh (bulk, patties, or links) and smoked sausages.
To prevent foodborne illness, uncooked sausages that contain ground beef, pork, lamb or veal should be cooked to 160 °F. Uncooked sausages that contain ground turkey and chicken should be cooked to 165 °F.
Ready-to-eat sausages are dry, semi-dry, and/or cooked. Dry sausages may be smoked, unsmoked, or cooked. Semi-dry sausages are usually heated in a smokehouse to fully cook the product and partially dry it. Cooked sausages (for example, bologna, and frankfurters) are cooked and may also be smoked.
Who inspects sausages?
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspects all sausages in interstate commerce and all sausages that are exported to other countries. If sausages are made in a retail establishment (such as a grocery store, meat market, or restaurant) and are sold within the State where the establishment is located, the sausage may be under the jurisdiction of that State’s health or agriculture department.
What is on the label?
The label provides consumers with information about a product at the time of sale. Labels are required to bear certain mandatory features including:
(1) the product name;
(2) an ingredients statement;
(3) the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor;
(4) an accurate statement of the net quantity of contents;
(5) the inspection legend and USDA establishment number;
(6) a safe handling statement if the product is perishable (for example, “Keep Frozen” or “Keep Refrigerated”);
(7) safe handling instructions, if the meat or poultry component of the product is not ready to eat; and
(8) nutrition facts information. The Nutrition Facts information on the label can help consumers compare products and make more informed, healthy food choices. If sausages are made and packaged in a local store, the nutrient information on the package is voluntary or it may be at the point of purchase. The application of a “use” or “sell by” date is optional.