Is Smoked Seafood Safe During Pregnancy?

    Q: Is it safe to eat smoked seafood during pregnancy?

    A: Smoked seafood and fish contain protein and vitamins A and D (in fish liver oil). They are also an excellent source of B complex vitamins especially niacin, B12 and B6. They can supply you Calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorous, potassium, iodine and selenium. Smoked seafood is also low in fat and has beneficial omega 3 fatty acids.

    The only smoked fish and seafood that can be consumed during pregnancy is if it's canned. These are safe. However, the consumption of the smoked seafood that is not canned is not recommended for pregnant women and during pregnancy  because it could carry listeria and infect a woman with listeriosis, apotentially dangerous condition during pregnancy. In addition, the processing of the sea food involves addition of salt; this makes the sodium content in these foods very high, which could cause harm to the mother and the baby. At the least, the mother could have increased blood pressure or swelling due to the higher than healthy sodium intake.

    Pregnant women should not eat refrigerated smoked seafood like salmon, trout, whitefish, tuna, cod and mackerel unless it is served in a casserole or cooked dish. Such seafood carries the Listeria bacteria which causes Listeriosis. This ailment leads to still births, miscarriage and pregnancy complications. Pregnant women can easily contract the disease because their immune system is weaker during pregnancy.

    You can identify such refrigerated smoked sea food from the labels reading 'nova style', 'lox', 'kippered,' 'smoked' or 'jerky.' Such fish is stored in the refrigerated section of the grocery store or is found at deli counters.

    Also avoid smoked seafood like shark, swordfish, king Mackerel, white tuna and Tilefish as these varieties are high in methyl mercury which is poisonous. Mercury poisoning can harm the unborn child's nervous system. All fish should be limited to only a couple of times a week.

    Pregnant women should not buy smoked seafood that is intermingled with raw fish in the grocery as cross contamination may occur and the smoked fish may have bacteria.