Does a meaty, salty snack sound like just the thing? If it’s meat you’re after, you may be wondering: can you eat beef jerky while pregnant? Read on.
Salt and meat are both at the top of the list of foods commonly craved during pregnancy.
So if beef jerky is calling your name right now, you’re not alone.
But while it may be very enticing to pop a morsel in your mouth, you may be wondering can you eat beef jerky while pregnant?
Or is it best to avoid it for now?
Sorry, mama. We’ve got some bad news here.
We’ll take you through the details.
In this article: 📝
- What is beef jerky?
- Can pregnant women eat beef jerky?
- Can you eat store-bought beef jerky while pregnant?
What is beef jerky?
Jerky is lean, trimmed meat, cut into strips, and dried.
From the Quechua word ch’arki meaning “dried and salted meat,” this tasty treat is a favorite savory snack.
In some methods of preparation, jerky is smoked, and in others, it’s dehydrated, which means it can keep for longer.
And because of its salt content, it’s protected from some bacteria.
So if all this care has gone into its preparation, is beef jerky safe during pregnancy?
Can pregnant women eat beef jerky?
Unfortunately, the answer is that it’s best to steer clear.
As with deli meats, experts warn against beef jerky when pregnant.
When you’re expecting, it’s best to avoid any raw or undercooked meat.
That’s to stave off the risk of bacterial and parasitic infection.
While jerky is cooked to some degree, it’s uncertain whether it’s been cooked at a high enough temperature to ward off harmful bacteria and parasites.
And while drying and salting may help to reduce the risk of contamination, it doesn’t get rid of it completely.
And that can be tricky if you’re pregnant.
Our immune systems undergo all sorts of changes when pregnant, making us more vulnerable to infection.
Plus, there’s the risk of passing certain infections on to our unborn babies.
When meat is not cooked at high enough temperatures, it can lead to contamination by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause an infection called toxoplasmosis.
In most cases, this infection is harmless.
But in more severe cases, it can lead to pregnancy loss or to other severe conditions for your baby, either when they are born or later on in life.
(Hot tip: this parasite can also be spread through cat feces, so if you’re looking for a very good reason not to clean the litter box while pregnant, here it is.)
Another concern with meat cooked at low temperatures is the risk of bacterial infection like salmonella.
Listeriosis, a serious infection caused by the bacteria listeria, is particularly dangerous when pregnant — and you are more susceptible to it during pregnancy.
And beef jerky does come with this risk.
While some pregnant people may only have mild illness with listeriosis, it does come with risks of premature labor, low birth weight for your baby, and even stillbirth.
Beyond the risk of causing infection, jerky also has a high salt content.
A diet high in salt could affect your baby’s vital organs.
So with all that in mind, it’s best to be cautious for now.
And what about the type of beef jerky? Are there any options that are on the table?
Can you eat store-bought beef jerky while pregnant?
While store-bought jerky may be safer than homemade jerky, as it has to comply with food safety standards, it may also have high salt, sugar, and preservative content.
So what can you do to curb those cravings in a jerky-free way?
For a meat craving, a well-done steak is on the list of go-tos.
(Head here for the FDA’s guidelines on preparing meat safely for consumption during pregnancy.)
If you’re looking for a salty snack, nuts, whole wheat crackers, and hummus can all help stave off those savory cravings.
And if you feel like discussing pregnancy-safe recipes — or simply commiserating in the loss of your most loved treats — join us on Peanut.
The great news is, we don’t have to do this alone.
🥩 More on pregnancy foods:
Can Pregnant Women Eat Hot Dogs?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Pork?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Pepperoni?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Deli Meat?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Salami?
Can You Eat Medium Rare Steak While Pregnant?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Bacon?
Can You Eat Mayo While Pregnant?
19 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy