Deli Meat While Pregnant
Deli meat, also known as cold cuts, lunch meat or sandwich meat, is a common item both in grocery stores and food chains. However, during pregnancy, you would need to take the pros and cons of deli meat into consideration, as the risks associated with it may not be a myth.
Can you eat deli meat while pregnant
Pre-packaged or cured deli meat (bologna, ham, roast beef, salami, turkey, prosciutto) is not safe to eat during pregnancy [1, 3].
Ready-to-eat deli items bought directly from the counter may be contaminated with the bacteria listeria, responsible for the infection listeriosis [3, 6], which might increase the risks of miscarriage (in first trimester), low birth weight, preterm delivery, infections in the baby (in third trimester), or even stillbirth [3, 5]. Listeriosis affects approximately 2,500 Americans annually , with pregnant women making up for 30% of these numbers, as per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention . The CDC further shows expectant mothers to be 20 times more susceptible to this disease than a healthy adult , as your immune system becomes weak once you conceive .
Deli meat fresh from the counter may even contain nitrates, which may have carcinogenic properties that could be dangerous for the mother and baby .
However, eating a deli sandwich once or twice will probably not cause any harm; just make sure to avoid them in future. But, make sure to contact your doctor if you feel sick or experience discomfort after eating the meat.
Can you eat cooked deli meat during pregnancy
In case you are craving a deli item, you may consider heating it to a temperature of 165°F or cooking until it is steaming hot as the bacteria only gets killed at such a high range [3, 4]. If using a microwave, make sure that the meat is in there for at least as long as needed for the heat to get distributed evenly to make it piping hot . Refrigerating the meat at a temperature of 40°F may only slow down the bacterial growth but not kill it entirely .