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Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

Should I avoid eating lunch meat while I'm pregnant? I've heard it can be harmful to my baby.

Re: Should I avoid eating lunch meat while I'm pregnant? I've heard it can be harmful to my baby.

The Bump Expert

The problem with luncheon or deli meat is that it could potentially carry listeria, a bacterium that can wind up in processed meats (including deli meats and hot dogs) sometime between the cooking and packaging processes. Listeriosis causes serious illness in about 2,500 Americans each year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that pregnant women, who make up about 30 percent of those listeriosis cases, are about 20 times more likely to contract the disease than healthy non-pregnant people. Though the infection may not feel much worse than the flu, it can lead to miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth, and can also spread to your baby.

To play it safe, reheat all deli meat to at least 165 degrees before chowing down, or go for other sandwiches at lunch, like grilled chicken or tuna.

Erin van Vuuren

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

I wouldn't eat a sandwich from a fast food chain, if I had to have a sandwich I would buy a reputable brand from the grocery store and nuke the heck out of it.

HNLchick |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

I only ate lunch meat if it was reheated to steaming. I know a lot of women don't think it's a big deal to eat lunch meat while pregnant and I think it's fascinating that not one of them would give their baby honey during the first year for fear of botchulism. the risk of the infant contracting botchulism is lower than the risk of listeria poisoning, so, if you're going to avoid honey, logic would dictate that you might as well play it safe with lunch meat, too!

MrsGoldWoman |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

I love turkey sandwiches and though I've pretty much cut them out of my diet, when I do crave one, I've nuked the whammy outta it. It actually tastes great warm, like the delis make em! Add avocado and thin slices of cucumber and you've got yourself a meal!

SherLee |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

Does this include salami, too?

anaj95 |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

So are hot dogs and viena sausages the same as lunch meat? Just heat them really well?

Snyder2007 |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

I had at least one cold deli sandwich a week while I was pregnant...in fact, I CRAVED them. i just made sure I checked out the meat for any strange discolorations before they put it on the sandwich and then double checked it before I ate it. I delivered a healthy baby girl in May and we're doing perfectly fine and never contracted listeriosis. Yes it's possible to get it, but the chances are fairly slim. Check with your doctor about this.

HisDollface |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

I love Subways Turkey sandwiches. They should be safe if I get them toasted, right?

heyoheyo3 |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

Do you have to heat canned chicken before eating?

cochranb |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

If what I'm reading is right, then it's just the processed meats (bologna, hot dogs, and *ugh* pimento loaf) and not sliced turkey, chicken, and ham that you have to worry about, right? I just found out I was pregnant 3 days ago, and I had no idea lunch meat was even a concern!

Sailor_Princess |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

does this mean no subway unless i have them microwave it?

weaverlori22 |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

My doc told me that "real" meats are OK - like sliced turkey breast and roast beef, and to just stay away from the crappy stuff made with fillers.

JDWNYC |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

I think it all depends on who you talk to. There are three of us pregnant in my office and one girl's doctor said she just needs to heat it up, the other one says to avoid it all togther and my doctor didn't say anything. So I've read that you also want to be careful with the nitrates and nitrites in hot dogs and deli meats that are used as a perservative. I think like everything else it's all in moderation.

ash138 |

re: Q: Is lunch meat safe?

I was told that for bologna, hot dogs, and lunch meat to heat it up in the microwave for at least 10 seconds, then to let it cool down.

skp92 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

My co-worker ate turkey throughout her whole pregnancy. She was told by her doctor to just make sure she puts it in the microwave first.

vnguyen417 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I asked my doctor about lunch meat, primiarily turkey, and he said that it was fine to eat as long as I checked it for any of the sliminess typical of day old lunch meat. Now I only eat it the day I bring it home from the store. Or if I get a turkey sandwich sliced fresh at the deli. The key is to look at what you are eating. If it is slimy, don't eat it.

cweinstein113 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

Its ok to eat lunch meat- just dont eat a ton of it at one sitting. People go overborad with all this what you can and cant do stuff!

VanderLaan |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

My doctor told me I could continue to eat lunch meat as well. She stated that I should eat any lunch meat that looks slimy or smells old. She also said meat that has been cut fresh is better, especially eating it within a couple days. I have continued to eat lunch meat and not had any issues.

nelleebelle |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

According to my OB, it is perfectly fine to eat lunchmeat during pregnancy without heating it. This bacteria is present all the time and any person at any age could get sick, as with almost any food. What she suggests is everything in moderation. Don't indulge in lunchmeat everyday but don't get fanatical about it either.

Jessgran |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

My doctor told me to definitely avoid it because of the possibility of contracting listeria also. Does anyone have any idea about chorizo or sausage? I forgot to ask my doctor about that!

denissebergondo |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I used to work in a deli slicing lunch meat and I ALWAYS ask the deli workers to clean that slicer before they cut my meat to take home. If I want turkey, I don't want them cutting on a slicer that's bloody from roast beef. If I want roast beef, I want to make sure it's not cross-contaminated with any other lunch meat. This is very important, and I think that whoever wants to keep eating lunch meat should at least take the precaution to have the meat slicer cleaned before theirs is sliced on it—who knows how long that slicer has sat unused before you got there? Also, another concern with lunch meat in addition to listeria is the level of sodium and nitrates (preservatives). Natural lunchmeats like Boars Head do not contain any nitrates or preservatives, which means you have to eat them sooner before they go bad, but it also means you are ingesting less artificial stuff. If I go out to a sandwich place, I still always order hot sandwiches just in case, but at home, I'm just careful with what I buy and how long I keep it in my fridge.

niftysmith |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I love deli meat. Turkey is my favorite.

browneyevenus |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

u should reheat lunch meat, but try not to use a microwave because it changes the chemistry of the food therefore when you microwave food your body doesnt know what they are and what to do with them.

myfirstbaby1 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I thought you should avoid lunch meat that contains sodium nitrates. I found a few "natural" brands that don't list it as an ingredient.

dooleyhm |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I ate lunch meat my whole pregnancy. I looked up the odds and I had a better chance of being in a car accident than getting listeria.

Kml9876 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I'm with the young lady above. I craved turkey sandwiches like crazy through my whole first trimester and most of my second.... and I indulged. Never sick. Occasionally I nuked it, but preferred the cold deli. Subway was my best friend for weeks at a time and I'm doing just fine. Just saying....

mamapittman |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

Best solution I have found? I have a panini press at home. Make a regular sandwich, then throw it on the panini maker and it ups the taste and the safety! Just remember, those who are like.. I ate lunch meat and I'm fine... Of course you can be fine..its a risk... You just have to decide if you want to take it. Listeria is ever-present in the lunch meats (not just the processed ones) and our ability to process this particular bacteria is lessened by our diminished immunity during pregnancy. Only you can weigh the risks. Just remember, if you get sick, are you going to regret your decision? The presence of listeria increases the older the meat gets (the sliminess is the biproduct of the said bacteria) so your risk increases that way also. If you must ingest...super fresh (sliced in front of you) and heating are your best safeguards.

jessielude |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

Oh my, I hadn't heard of this before! And I've been on a vanilla pudding, chocolate milk, and sandwich kick... I would eat nothing else if I had the choice! Now I'll definitely be more careful..

MrsAdorkable |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I think its okay to eat lunch meat as long as its not "old" or "slimmy" like some mentioned - but you wouldn't normally eat it anyways if it was "old" or "slimmy" - I go to this super fresh deli that makes their own deli daily (and sourdough bread). Try to find places with high traffic so that the stuff is fresher. And, moderation is key!

julesjules316 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

my doctor told me to avoid or to heat up all lunch meats. I can't stand the taste of hot lunch meat so I just don't eat it. I'll go back to eating cold sandwiches after the baby is born and I'm no longer breastfeeding. just a personal preference I guess

rainrebel613 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

What about packaged turkey from the grocery store? Hillshire Farm for example? My doctor said that was fine, as long as it doesn't come from the deli. Do I still need to heat up that kind of turkey?

susanboyd |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

This is ridiculous! I don't eat lunch meat on a daily basis, but how can a turkey sandwich be any more harmful than a grilled chicken sandwich from a restaurant! Everyone out there who actually obsesses with this stuff is probably doing more harm to their baby because of the stress.

cdeluc12 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I am curious about the pre-packed lunch meat too. I rarely buy from the deli, so is the pre-packaged turkey and ham ok? What about the pre-packed strips of chicken breast?

sarahmmelvin |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I just found out I was pregnant 3 days ago and I was eating lunch meat everyday. My doc said it was okay because the meats at Stop and Shop are replaced often because theiy are busy.

nicole4311 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I have to say when I first heard I should be reheating lunchmeat before eating it I thought, "Ugh! How annoying!" But it's turned out that it's really not that bad. I throw a few slices on a plate in the microwave for 30 seconds and then make the rest of my sandwich. By the time I'm ready to add the lunchmeat it's cooled down a bit, and the taste and texture doesn't really change at all. I really need to say something about the people who have made a comment like, "I ate cold cuts my entire pregnancy and nothing happened to me!", as if that's supposed to provide proof that no one needs to worry about it. These people must not understand the concept of RISK. There is a CHANCE that eating cold lunchmeat COULD cause you to contract the listeria bacteria, which MAY or MAY NOT spread to your baby or cause other complications. Just because you gambled and got the result you were hoping for (i.e. not getting sick), does not mean you will win that gamble the next time, or that I or anyone else will get the same result. Everyone needs to weigh the odds and decide what's best for themselves.

rocknrollfriend |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

My doctor said eating lunch meat was fine. she said that if she started limiting that then she would need to go into all sorts of meat. Women were eating whatever they wanted forever and ended up just fine. Just don't eat foods that have been sitting out a long time for bacteria to grow

walkers4506 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

My doctor told me to stay away from bologna and hot dogs, because people shouldn't east them anyway. She said a long as it is a quality, low sodium brand, that out should be just fine

endoxzon |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I don't think that microwaves are the answer. We shouldn't be anywhere near those things anyway! Know your meat. If you have a reputable meat source that is not super processed (like turkey) and is fresh. Listeria is real but so is salmonella and they are both things that can be avoided when you are educated about your food and how you handle it. Remember you are what you eat and you are literally creating a human being with what you are eating. Choose organic when you can, don't eat canned or processed foods, and know where your food comes from.

corinneferry |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

i agree.. microwaves give off radiation. quality deli meat is fine.. just not the crap packaged meat. try to stay away from preservatives! and try a "toaster oven" to heat your meat :)

astyson13 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I asked my doctor this exact question yesterday and she told me the only reason people say not to eat it is fear of food poisoning from the bacteria in the meat. She told me to only get lunch meat from reputable places, like Panera Bread, Subway, etc or the deli at my supermarket

meligrif |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

Some of these responses are absolutely hilarious! Seriously, let stay away from microwaves because they give off radiation, HAHAHAHA! Come on! If microwaves really gave off a significant amount of radiation then there would be a whole lot more pregnant women having "special needs" babies. WOW, some people are just plain paranoid. As for the lunch meat crap, I don't like the idea of heating it up but I haven't decided if I want to take the risk of eating it cold. With my daughter I ate lunch meat all of the time, and a lot of it because it was one of very few things that I actually wanted to eat during the first trimester and even later I would wake up in the middle of the night craving what my husband called the "pregnant woman sandwich" piled high with turkey, ham, pepperoni, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayo and mustard. My doc also told me that I could eat anything in moderation as long as it wasn't raw or undercooked meat, or soft cheese. My new doc for this pregnancy hasn't said anything but the nutritionist looked at me like I was absolutely psycho when I told him I always ate lunch meat with my daughter and told me that it's bad, don't do it. It's a decision you have to make. Since I've already took the chance with my daughter (because I didn't know how bad it could be) I will probably stick to minimal cold lunch meat and probably start eating more warm turkey sandwiches, which sounds really good right now, lol!

KJackson06 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

Symptoms are flu-like? I had that last week REALLY bad (still suffering from sore throat and a cough right now) and I eat lunch meat all the time. Does anyone know any of the other symptoms of listeriosis? How do I know if I have it?

meganorr |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

My OB told me that the risk of this is SO low that lunch meat is perfectly fine as long as it comes from a reputable deli or supermarket... so bring on the hoagies!

kungfuwifey |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I am not a doctor or an expert in this, but I have been trained in food safety, and I see a lot of myths and misinformation being spread in these comments. Among them: You can not see or smell listeria. The sliminess of the meat will not tell you whether or not it's contaminated. You need to heat up the meat to 165 degrees, which is quite hot. I don't know if a panini machine would do that, but you can always use a thermometer to check. Microwaves have not been proven to be harmful to unborn babies, but listeria has. If you're not going to use a microwave, then it stands to reason that you would not want to assume the much greater risk of eating unheated lunchmeats. Pregnant women and babies are much more vulnerable to bacteria than other people are. Also, the fact that one person ate something and did not get sick is not evidence that the food is always safe for all pregnant women. Product recalls for contaminated food happen all the time. Even 'reputable' stores are vulnerable to selling food that has been contaminated in some way. Basically, the Bump's original response to this question is reliable, and there is a ton of misinformation in the comments. My advice is to see what the FDA and CDC have to say on issues like this, ask your doctor, and ignore message boards and well meaning girlfriend's advice.

NYChick |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

From the FDA Website: 5. Associated Foods: L. monocytogenes has been associated with such foods as raw milk, supposedly pasteurized fluid milk, cheeses (particularly soft-ripened varieties), ice cream, raw vegetables, fermented raw-meat sausages, raw and cooked poultry, raw meats (all types), and raw and smoked fish. Its ability to grow at temperatures as low as 3°C permits multiplication in refrigerated foods.

hag888 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

My Dr says there are approximately 6 million pregnancies in the US every year and about 750 cases of Listeria in pregnant women. He explained that the risk is so low that eating lunch meat from a reliable brand/source is fine.

0205laura |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I think pregnant women and doctors are all CRAZY these days. Did anyone do anything different for years and years ago when they were pregnant, NO! They drank and smoked for God's sake. Everyone is just so paranoid and misinformed these days, it's so sad....to be a good parent you are going to need some of your own intuition and common sense, so start now while you're pregnant ladies :) You can't even listen to the doctors because they all contradict each other and these are the same people who tell us uneccesary things about unproven theories that may (or usually not) result in abnormalities...thanks Docs. To boot, they tell us as pregnant women we should eliminate stress out of our lives, they are causing alot of it with their unfounded "theories". It all just really annoys me!

coreylisi |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I love sandwiches. So, since being prego, I heat up my meat on a skillet, then toast my sandwich with cheese. Pile it all on with lettuce and tomatoe and it's one good lunch!

Shay1211 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I've been avoiding it altogether. If I go to Subway I just get a veggie sub. At home, we've been buying a rotisserie chicken for dinner and I'll eat the leftovers in sandwiches. So good and not processed meat!

snowgirl0429 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I used to drink, smoke and party all night long. I can give up all of that and more for 9 months if that means having a healthy baby. Ladies, we're starting down that road of NOT being the most important thing in our lives. I have plenty of time to have hot dogs (which I am craving like crazy) later. After I meet my wonderful, HEALTY baby.

jckingc17 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

My doctor told me that I could eat lunch meats that are in the meat department that have been flash steamed. He said that would have taken care of any of the bacteria. He said NO STORE DELI meats. (Where they cut it for you) 90% of the time the slicers are not as clean as they should be. Also, he said Subway is fine but to make sure you're going there at lunch or dinner time when they are busy so you know your meat/veggies haven't been just sitting out for a few hours. All good tips I think. :)

iandebender |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

"About 2,500 Americans each year" get seriously ill from listeria. There are 300 million people in America; that's a 0.0008% chance of you contracting listeria. Not saying that you shouldn't be cautious, but you have a better chance of getting in a car accident or slipping on ice.

smkmshops |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

If listeria can be avoided by heating up deli meats, then why isn't oven-roasted or BBQ chicken or turkey safe? Since it's been cooked before, then shouldn't it be safe to eat sliced from a deli? I know that listeria can be spread on processing equipment, but if if that's cleaned then should't it be safe?...

AngelinMiami |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

Maybe you should ask about the restaurant supplies company just to be sure that you are on the safe side. On the other hand you could skip eating from places that you aren't sure about. It's a small price to pay to keep your child safe.

jacklondon |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

You should ask a nutritionist if is good to mix meat with milk. I know very good physicians on pdr online who are willing to answer you in no time. Personally I prefer to eat meat at lunch and milk at breakfast, rarely I combine these two but without realizing what I did.

lionking44 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

Lunchmeat is NOT safe to eat without heating in the microwave to steaming. The reason is Listeria, which is a bacteria that grows *without smell or taste, and is not related to whether or not the meat 'looks slimy'* even at temperatures below 40 degrees. The only way to kill the bacteria is to heat the lunchmeat to at least 165 degrees (steaming). You should remove it from the original package, nuke it on a separate plate, and then eat it. People who say 'I ate turkey sandwiches every day while pregnant and have a healthy baby' are quite naive and ignorant to advise other mothers to do the same. The fact is, contracting Listeria is rare in the average person but pregnant women are 20 times more likely to contract the disease, and the most common side effect is miscarriage, along with sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis in newborns who can contract the disease on their way through the birth canal as well as in the womb through the placenta. This is a risk you should not take while pregnant, take it from someone who is pregnant, a chef (and certified in food management and safety) and the wife of a doctor. It's one of those things that you will of course hear plenty of women poo-poo'ing because they ate cold cuts and deli meats during their pregnancy and turned out fine but the risk is legitimate and relatively high. It's like saying 'well I crossed the street without looking and didn't get run over by a car so you shouldn't worry about it.' Also, if the only thing your doctor tells you is to stay away from nitrates then you should consider finding a new ob/gyn. Again...you could certainly eat deli meats and be fine, but when the side effect is MISCARRIAGE why would you risk it? Over a turkey sandwich?

alisong947 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

I've been craving a sandwich from Jimmy Johnss but my personal choice is deli meat is not worth the potential risk. A friend who had recently had a baby gave me the wonderful advice to chose the veggie sandwich and was surprised at how much it scratched craving the itch! I think any healthy choices that can leave the baby with a better chance are worth it. I foresee many veggie sandwiches in my future!

kerrie99 |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

Flu like symptoms. I've had that for 3 months. I call it morning sickness, and you better believe I have no intention to make it worse by actually getting myself sick. This has been miserable enough! No lunch meats without proper heating? Check!

BJNesbitt |

Q&A: Is lunch meat safe during pregnancy?

This is absolutely crazy..there is no debate. On every Health and infectious disease site it clearly says no lunch meat for expecting mothers unless heated to 165 degrees. That goes for all deli meats real and not. It's not a matter of sliminess or what it looks or smells like. A Listeriosis outbreak come from packaging plants where meat was cut with infected blades. It's not about moderation or the quality of the meat it's that it's pre-cut and can carry an absolutely invisible potentially detrimental bacteria.

akesteven |