Can I Eat Deli Meat While Pregnant? Is Lunch Meat Safe to Eat?

Can I eat deli meat while pregnant? Many pregnant women are curious about the safety of processed meat. In this blog post, we’ll provide some useful tips and advice on eating deli meat while pregnant. Let’s get started!
Can I Eat Deli Meat While Pregnant

Key Takeaways

  • You shouldn’t eat deli meat while pregnant ❌
  • All deli meats pose a risk of contracting Listeria ❌
  • Heat up your deli meat before you eat it ✔️
  • Store all your meats in separate packages in the fridge ✔️

About Pregnancy and Deli Meats

About Pregnancy and Deli Meats

Pregnant women often have questions about what they can and cannot eat; mostly because they have to follow a healthy diet in order to provide nutrients for the developing baby. While some foods should be avoided, such as unpasteurized cheeses and undercooked meat, deli meat is still debated. Why?

Deli meats are usually made from cooked meats that have been sliced and then refrigerated. The high heat used to cook the meat kills any harmful bacteria. However, one should take precautions when eating deli meat during pregnancy.

  • Make sure that the meat is fully cooked before eating it.
  • Avoid consuming any meat that has been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Avoid eating deli meats that contain nitrates or nitrites, as these chemicals can be harmful to the developing baby. 

Can I Eat Deli Meat While Pregnant?

So, can I eat deli meat while pregnant? In general, deli meat is not very safe to eat during pregnancy, because there is a risk of Listeria bacteria. The safest way to eat deli meat while pregnant is to cook it so that the high temperature can kill the bacteria. However, even cooked deli meat should be eaten in moderation, as it is high in sodium and fat. 

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The Dangers of Listeria Bacteria

The Dangers of Listeria Bacteria

Listeria bacteria is a type of foodborne pathogen that can cause serious illness. Pregnant people are particularly vulnerable to Listeria infection, as the bacteria can cross the placenta and infect the developing fetus. Listeriosis can lead to sepsis, stillbirth, miscarriage, or premature labor. In newborns, listeriosis can cause meningitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. 

For these reasons, it is important for pregnant people to avoid foods that may be contaminated with Listeria bacteria. These include unpasteurized dairy products, deli meats, and prepared foods that have been refrigerated for an extended period of time. While the risk of contracting listeriosis is relatively low, pregnant women should take extra precautions to protect themselves and their babies from this serious disease. Therefore, the answer to “Can I eat deli meat while pregnant?” is no.

Which Deli Meat Should I Avoid?

When most people think of deli meat, they tend to think of ham, turkey, and other lunch meats that are typically sliced thin and served on sandwiches. However, the term deli meat actually refers to any type of meat that is prepared and sold in a delicatessen. This extends not only to lunch meats, but also to hot dogs, sausages, and even seafood. While pregnant, you should avoid all of these.

Editor’s Note

These are all just precautions. If you eat one hot dog on a Saturday afternoon, you’ll probably be fine. While it’s essential for you to follow a healthy diet, a few cheat days throughout the pregnancy won’t harm the fetus.

Tips for Eating Deli Meat While Pregnant

How to safely enjoy deli meat during pregnancy:

  • Choose pre-packaged, sliced deli meats rather than those that are sold by the pound.
  • If possible, cook deli meat before eating it. This includes heating lunch meat sandwiches until the meat is steaming hot.
  • Avoid cross contamination by using separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and other foods. Also, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.
  • If you’re unsure about the safety of a particular food, ask your healthcare provider or check out the USDA’s Food Safety During Pregnancy website. 
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What If You Ate Deli Meat While Pregnant?

Now, you know the answer to “Can I eat deli meat while pregnant?” But what happens if you accidentally eat it? The risk of contracting listeria from deli meat is relatively low. In most cases, there are no harmful effects if you accidentally eat deli meat while pregnant. However, if you experience any alarming symptoms after eating deli meat, such as fever, muscle aches, or diarrhea, it’s important to see a doctor immediately. Otherwise, if you’re feeling okay, just consult your doctor at your earliest convenience.

Wonder what else you should avoid while pregnant? Check out our article on “Can You Eat Egg Drop Soup While Pregnant?”

Frequently Asked Questions

deli meat while pregnant Frequently Asked Questions

What Lunch Meat Can You Not Eat While Pregnant?

It is not advised to eat pre-packaged meats. You should also avoid cold cuts. 

Can I Have Rotissere Chicken While Pregnant?

You shouldn’t. But if you’re really craving it, you should heat it up until it’s hot. This reduces the risk of contracting bacteria. 

What Deli Meats Are Not Processed?

Processed meat means it was already pre-heated, and possibly cured or seasoned. Sadly, that usually applies to most deli meats. The ones that are not processed are fresh, and not modified in any way.



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