Hot dogs are prepared and eaten in a variety of ways. The wieners may be boiled, grilled, fried, steamed, broiled, baked, or microwaved. The cooked wiener may be served on a bun (usually topped with condiments), or it may be used as an ingredient in another dish.
Unlike other sausages which may be sold uncooked, hot dogs are cooked before packaging. Hot dogs can be eaten without additional cooking, although they are usually warmed before serving. Because an unopened, packaged hot dog can have Listeria bacteria that cause listeriosis, it is safer to heat them, especially for pregnant women and those with suppressed immune systems.
An American Institute for Cancer Research report found that consuming one 50-gram serving of processed meat — about one hot dog — every day increases risk of colorectal cancer by 20 percent. The Cancer Project group filed a class-action lawsuit demanding warning labels on packages and at sporting events. Hot dogs are high in fat and salt and have preservatives sodium nitrate and nitrite, which are possible contributors to nitrate-containing chemicals believed to cause cancer. According to the AICR, the average risk of colorectal cancer is 5.8 percent, but 7 percent when a hot dog is consumed daily over years.
Hot dogs have relatively low heterocyclic amines (HCA) levels compared to other types of ready-to-eat meat products, because they are manufactured at low temperatures.