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There are many varieties of sausage that have varying flavors, cooking methods and storage times. Fresh, uncooked sausage needs to be handled safely, as you would any other type of meat. Some sausages are vacuum-packed, which can increase safe storage times. Low-fat and poultry sausages are also available and are increasingly popular.

  • Fridge time: 3 to 5 days (dry sausage does not require refrigeration)

  • Freezer time: up to 2 months.


Let the label be your guide to sausage selection and handling. Labels indicate if the product must be refrigerated, the nutrient content and the ingredients. All ingredients in the product must be listed by weight in descending order in the ingredient statement.

Although dating is a voluntary program and not mandated by the federal government. However, if a date is used, it must state what the date means.

  • If the sausage has a "use-by" date, follow that date. It is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality (the manufacturer of the product has determined the date). If the sausage has a "sell-by" date, or no date, store it for the times recommended above.
When cooking link sausages, cook slowly to avoid splitting the casings.
Turn sausages using tongs, not a fork that can puncture the casing and allow juices to escape.

Fresh Sausage must be cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of 160 F before consuming. Fresh sausage may be cooked in a variety of ways, including: parboiled and slow cooked.

  • Par-boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, and then pan fry. Parboiled sausage also may be grilled slowly over coals, turning frequently.
  • Slow cook: it is extremely important that the sausage cook slowly, thoroughly and evenly.

Cooked Sausage only needs to be re-heated, since it was cooked thoroughly during processing. Be sure to reheat thoroughly.

  • Steam: Remove pan of boiling water from heat and add sausage. Cover the pan and let it stand 10-15 minutes. It is not advisable to add sausages to vigorously boiling water because it may cause them to split.
  • Microwave, grill or pan-fried
Uncooked Smoked Sausage is smoked but not cooked. These products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160F, using a choice of methods (pan-fry, grill, parboil, etc.)
Dry and Semi-dry Sausage is cured during processing; later, fermentation gives the tangy flavor. These varieties do not require cooking.
Note: Pregnant women, children, elderly and immuno-compromised individuals can be at an increased risk of developing foodborne illnesses that can have dire consequences. Additional care should be taken for safe handling.

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