It’s everyone’s favorite French condiment – a perfect blend of egg yolks, oil, and vinegar or lemon juice, with a dash of mustard thrown in. But can you eat mayo while pregnant?
Most of the time, the answer is a firm yes. Things only start to get complicated when you’re making it from scratch.
Let’s take a closer look.
Can pregnant women eat mayonnaise?
Most of the time, eating mayonnaise when pregnant is no big deal.
This is because store-bought jars of mayonnaise are made using pasteurized egg yolks.
In fact, all commercial egg-based sauces and dressings in the US have to be pasteurized. It’s the law according to the USDA.
The only exception is going to be artisanal, fresh mayo from the deli or farmers’ market, or from your kitchen.
Pasteurization is a process where ingredients (usually egg or milk) are heated to destroy bacteria.
Food is brought up to 145°F / 63°C for 30 minutes, or 162°F / 72°C for 15 seconds.
It gives them a longer shelf life and almost completely removes the risk of food-borne illnesses like listeria or salmonella.
Pasteurization is also the reason it’s safe to eat some soft cheeses during pregnancy.
This means that pasteurized mayonnaise is safe to eat while you’re pregnant. Dipping fries in it is fine. Using it as the base in a dressing is fine.
Adding it to coleslaw and potato salad – go for it.
Is Hellman’s mayo safe during pregnancy?
Along with Heinz, Hellman’s is one of the biggest manufacturers of mayonnaise in the world.
They use pasteurized eggs, which makes it completely safe to base your egg mayonnaise sandwich on a jar of this classic condiment.
One small caveat: The silky texture of mayonnaise is largely down to a surprising amount of oil. So pregnant women, like everyone else, should probably enjoy mayonnaise in small portions.
Is mayonnaise safe during pregnancy?
What happens if I eat mayonnaise during pregnancy?
Probably nothing other than you get an awesome sandwich. But while store-bought, pasteurized mayo is safe, it is possible to buy small-batch mayonnaise made with raw, unpasteurized egg yolks or order fresh mayo in a restaurant.
The risk of raw egg yolks is that they can carry salmonella, a type of bacteria that causes severe food poisoning.
Symptoms of salmonella are pretty unpleasant – vomiting, bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, and headaches that develop between six hours and six days after eating contaminated food.
For the very young, the very old, and those with compromised immune systems (including pregnant women) salmonella can easily land you in the hospital.
There is some good news, in that salmonella outbreaks from raw eggs aren’t as common as they used to be.
European chickens are vaccinated, and the US has strict regulations about refrigerating eggs that have really reduced the risk.
But, during pregnancy, a lot of women still prefer to err on the side of caution.
Whether you’re eating out or sampling someone’s homemade mayo at a BBQ, it’s always best to ask whether it’s been made with pasteurized egg yolks.
If you can’t be sure, just skip it. This also goes for other egg-based dressings like aioli and hollandaise.
And one more thing – even jars of pasteurized mayonnaise can cause food poisoning if they’re not stored correctly.
An unopened jar is fine in the pantry until you’re ready for it.
But, once you’ve cracked the seal, it needs to be tightly closed and in the refrigerator. It’s also best to finish the jar within two months of opening.
The bottom line
Can you have mayo when pregnant?
With all the information, of course you can.
Read the label, ask your waiter or waitress, or (if you’re at a family meal) check with the person who made the dip.
The worst that’s going to happen is that you’ll have to wait a few short months to try it.
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Can Pregnant Women Eat Mushrooms?
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Can Pregnant Women Eat Bacon?
Can You Eat Cheesecake When Pregnant?
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