Can You Eat Red Meat While Pregnant [Explained]

Sami S
Sami S

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If you enjoy savory beef, pork, or lamb, pregnancy might make you crave your favorite red meats even more.

This article will guide expectant mothers on whether they can eat red meat while pregnant. 

Follow along to learn how much red meat pregnant women can eat, which meats should be avoided when pregnant, and what meats are safe to consume while expecting.

Can You Eat Red Meat While Pregnant?

Yes, you can eat red meat while pregnant if it’s thoroughly cooked. Red meat must be free of any pink hue or blood before being consumed by pregnant women.

According to the FDA, beef, pork, veal, and lamb roasts, steaks, and chops should be cooked to at least 145℉ (63℃) and have a resting time of three minutes.

The FDA also states that ground beef, veal, lamb, and pork must be cooked to at least 160℉ (71℃).

Use a sanitized food thermometer to ensure all red meat is cooked to a safe internal temperature. To properly use the thermometer, stick it directly into the meat without puncturing it through to the pan. 

When red meat is fully cooked, it rids itself of harmful parasites that can present risks to pregnant women and their babies. By thoroughly cooking red meat, you can minimize the risk of infections like toxoplasmosis.

The FDA confirms that you can contract toxoplasmosis from eating raw or undercooked meat or using utensils that touched these meats. Toxoplasmosis can harm your fetus early on and after birth.

Which Meats Should be Avoided During Pregnancy?

The NHS reports that raw or undercooked meats, liver and liver products, pȃtés, and game meats like goose, partridge or pheasant should be avoided by pregnant women.

Like red meat, undercooked or raw meat in general increases the chance of getting toxoplasmosis.

Liver contains a substantial amount of vitamin A which can also be harmful to a fetus. 

 

Additionally, game meat may contain lead, depending on how it was hunted.

Expectant mothers should also be cautious of cold-cured meats like salami, pepperoni, chorizo and prosciutto. 

Unless they are thoroughly cooked, cold cured meats might contain parasites that cause toxoplasmosis.

What Meat Can I Eat When Pregnant?

Pregnant women can eat fully-cooked red meat and poultry.

The FDA advises that poultry have a minimum internal temperature of 165℉ (74℃). 

Unlike cold-cured meats, the NHS states that cold pre-packed meats like ham and corned beef should also be safe for pregnant women. The safest way to eat these meats is to cook them until steaming hot.

How Much Red Meat Should a Pregnant Woman Eat?

PBMC highlights that pregnant women should eat around 71 grams of protein daily and have a minimum of five ounces of legumes and lean meat.

This protein intake correlates to two three-ounce servings of meat, poultry or fish.

Pregnant women should limit portions of red meat and incorporate more fish and poultry into their diet.

 

For personalized information about your diet, consult your doctor.

Conclusion

Like most meats, red meat is safe for consumption while pregnant if it has been thoroughly cooked. 

Raw, undercooked, cold cured, pâté, liver and game meats should be avoided to minimize the risk of toxoplasmosis. 

Keeping red meat portions small and alternating your protein intake with fish and poultry will help you navigate a healthy diet while pregnant.

Sources:

https://www.pbmchealth.org/news-events/blog/should-women-eat-red-meat-during-pregnancy 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20043844 

https://www.fda.gov/food/people-risk-foodborne-illness/meat-poultry-seafood-food-safety-moms-be

https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/foods-to-avoid/   

https://www.fda.gov/food/people-risk-foodborne-illness/toxoplasma-food-safety-moms-be 

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