Deli Meat in Pregnancy

Eating Deli Meats During Your Pregnancy: Is it Safe?

Deli meats refer to cooked meats that have been sliced and prepared for a sandwich and other light dining options. These could easily be called sandwich meat, lunch meat, cold cuts, or sliced meats. Deli meats can be classified as whole cuts, sectioned or formed meats, or processed meats. All types will fall into one of these three categories.

  • Whole cut – whole cuts of meat that have been cooked and then sliced
  • Sectioned – restructured meats from chunks or pieces bonded to create a single piece
  • Processed – similar to sectioned, but may include meat by-products

Deli meats are one of the most common food items across the country. They are found in food chains, grocery stores, and local delis. Because they are so common, many people are surprised to discover there is a negative relationship with pregnancy. Deli meats and pregnancy concerns often have people asking what is wrong with lunch meat during pregnancy?

Why Can’t Pregnant Women Eat Deli Meat?

More than likely you have heard someone share their advice about not eating deli meats while pregnant. You have probably heard others share personal stories about eating deli meats and everything turning out fine.

The good news is that the probability of experiencing a problem from deli meats is very unlikely. Approximately 2,500 individuals will become infected with Listeria annually. This means it is extremely rare. However, the problem for pregnant women is they are more susceptible to get it and their developing babies are more vulnerable to serious complications and even death.

The federal government has taken huge steps in helping to prevent the spread, or exposure, to Listeria. Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking. Cold cuts are now sprayed with a food additive that helps prevent Listeria before packaging.

You don’t need to panic if you are pregnant and have been eating deli meats. The probabilities are in your favor that nothing has happened. When it comes to deli meats it is important you know that the likelihood of being exposed to Listeria is low. On the flip side, you need to know that if your developing baby is exposed to Listeria it can be devastating.

Wait Until After Your Pregnancy or Take Precautions

Some people love their lunch meat sandwiches. Others opt for them because of ease or for the low cost, while some want something more nutritional than a fast food burger. The safest course of action to protect your baby is to avoid deli meats until after pregnancy.

If you plan to eat deli meats anyway, we highly suggest cooking them until they are steaming. If the meat is heated to steaming, any present Listeria bacteria should no longer be alive. More than likely everything will be fine, but if at all possible, it is best to find another go-to food.

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