Can you eat beef jerky while pregnant?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat beef jerky while pregnant?”, and what are the risks of eating beef jerky?

Can you eat beef jerky while pregnant?

No, you cannot eat beef jerky while pregnant. Beef jerky is a dried meat product and its safety is unreliable for pregnant women. Like beef jerky, other dried meat products should also be avoided during pregnancy. 

These include game jerky, bresaola, jerky-style products like Slim Jims, sticks or dried sausage, biltong, bakkwa, Dried Beef Slices (such as Hormel’s) when not cooked, and Chipped Beef (when not fully cooked). 

Microwaving beef jerky to a safe internal temperature sounds like a better idea but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Homemade or store-bought, the jerky should be avoided during pregnancy because it is not cooked. Last but not least, dry or wet-aged meat is only allowed for pregnant women if cooked to an internal safe temperature of 165℉ or higher. 

What are the risks?

Foodborne illness and toxoplasma 

Pregnant women are categorized as an immunocompromised group which means their immunity is at its lowest. 

This makes pregnant women susceptible to illnesses like toxoplasma. Toxoplasmosis affects both mother and the child.

Eating beef jerky during pregnancy is the leading cause of toxoplasmosis among pregnant women. It is because beef jerky is a dried meat product and it does not undergo any cooking procedure to eliminate pathogenic bacteria. 

This puts pregnant women at great risk of food poisoning from eating beef jerky. Toxoplasma also spreads through eating poorly washed fruits and veggies, and poor handling of undercooked meat.

Salt and spike in blood pressure 

Beef jerky is significantly high in salts or sodium. Such high levels of salt are dangerous for a pregnant lady as they can lead to a sudden spike in blood pressure or swelling followed by discomfort. High blood pressure during pregnancy increases the risk for preterm labor and preeclampsia.

Healthy substitutes for beef jerky

A well-done steak that is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165℉ is a delicious and healthy alternative to beef jerky. Plant-based or vegetarian jerky also helps satisfy cravings.

However, plant-based jerky and cooked bacon are high in salt just like any other store-bought snack. As mentioned above, too much salt should be dangerous for pregnant women.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy

Consuming undercooked meats, high-salt or processed foods and unpasteurized drinks could be very problematic during pregnancy. Therefore, they must all be avoided. 

Foods to avoid during pregnancy include sushi, sashimi, raw oysters, raw scallops, raw cookie dough, raw eggs(homemade mayo), undercooked meat, poultry and seafood, raw sprouts, pre-made grocery store chicken and tuna salad, unpasteurized milk, juice, and apple cider vinegar, raw milk products such as feta, and deli meats. 

Consult your doctor 

Pregnancy is tied to often feeling nauseated and vomiting. A few symptoms can help distinguish between a pregnancy-related sickness and an actual food-borne illness.

These symptoms include fever, flu-like symptoms, sore muscles, skin rash, and sore throat. You should immediately contact your OB-GYN  if you experience these symptoms or if you have eaten undercooked meat or seafood.

Treatment for illness

Your blood test is taken and amniocentesis will be performed to confirm the diagnosis and make sure the fetus is free from infection. Your doctor will give you an antibiotic which will help relieve the symptoms.

What foods to eat during pregnancy?

Instead of dried or processed meats, incorporate lean meats like cooked fish, poultry, red meat, and turkey in your diet. Include folate-rich veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables.

Eat as many fresh fruits as you can. Pasteurized orange juice is particularly healthy for pregnancy. Ditch the regular beard for a whole-grain beard, rice, and cereals.

In seafood, low-mercury fish, like flounder, haddock, whitefish, and trout is encouraged for pregnant women. Moreover, take more egg whites pasteurized dairy products for calcium intake.

How can you prevent toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?

  1. Thoroughly wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, chicken, fish, fruits, or vegetables.
  1. Do not clean your cat’s litter box yourself if you own one. If it is important, do it only after you wear gloves and a face mask. Regularly clean the tables and counter on which your cat may have walked.
  1. Always eat fully cooked meat.
  1. Do not touch cat feces or soil with your bare hands. If you did, wash your hands thoroughly with soap.
  1. Wash the fruits and veggies before eating them.
  1. Only drink treated water.

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat beef jerky while pregnant?”, and what are the risks of eating beef jerky?

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/beef-jerky-pregnant#foods-to-eat
https://www.cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness/hw/medical-topics/toxoplasmosis-during-pregnancy-tn7481

Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.