Q: I heard that ground meat can prove harmful or even fatal for pregnant women during pregnancy. Is this true?

A: Ground meat or mince is meat that is ground/ chopped into fine pieces by a meat grinder.  It is often used in hamburgers or other dishes such as Bolognese sauce, but it's also used as part of sausages. The meat used in ground meat dishes may be beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, mutton, or goat meat.

Ground beef or ground meat has an increased risk of being contaminated, especially if it's undercooked, and can present an infection risk to everyone including to pregnant people. This is because ground meat can be contaminated, especially when it is served or stays at room temperature and the consumption of ground meat can become life-threatening for the mother and the baby. Pregnant women are most vulnerable with their weak immune systems to the potential bacteria in ground meat.

Ground beef may be entirely contaminated with bacteria. In the case of whole meats, the inside of the meat is germ-free. The bacterial contamination, if any, is only on the surface and this may be sterilized by cooking well. If the ground meat is not cooked well right up to the center, it is quite certain that pathogenic bacteria will not die. They will then enter the body of the pregnant woman who consumes the meat and cause sickness and food poisoning. The diseases caused by the bacteria lodged in ground meat include listeriosis, e.coli, Campylobacter infections, salmonellosis, and toxoplasmosis. It can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea, and kidney failure. It can lead to severe anemia and damage the gastrointestinal tract.  

If you are eating ground meat during pregnancy ensure safe and hygienic handling of the meat. Never eat raw or undercooked ground meat. Ensure with a meat thermometer that the ground meat has been cooked to reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If no pinkness is visible on the meat it means it has been cooked completely. Don't eat cooked ground meat that has been outside the refrigerator for 2 hours or more.

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