Are hot dogs safe during pregnancy?
Hot dogs are not nutritious and if not heated well enough can contain a bacteria called "Listeria" which leads to food poisoning and major pregnancy complications such as miscarriages and stillbirths. Heating up a hot dog to an internal temperature of above 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 minutes or more can kill listeria, though the hot dogs you buy on the street are usually not heated enough.
Hot dogs or Frankfurters may be fully cooked, cured, or smoked. They can be spicy or mild and may be made from chicken, pork, beef, and turkey. Often garnished with ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, onion, cheese, or chili, they are a delight for your taste buds. But they are not nutritious.
You're going to crave a lot of very strange foods during your pregnancy. Hormonal changes might make you want to taste things you've never cared for, and even the slightest smell of your favorite dish will make you feel voracious. Many women notice that they especially love foods that are either very salty or very sweet, depending on their mood. Since hot dogs fall perfectly into the salty category, you might find yourself buying them as a quick fix for your cravings. However, you need to be careful about eating them because they could contain harmful bacteria that you should avoid during your pregnancy.
Hot dogs are one of the many human inventions that are simply irresistible to most. While they are completely unhealthy and provide little nutritional value relative to normal meat, they are delicious, cheap, and easy to make. Like deli meats, hot dogs might contain a dangerous bacteria called listeria. Studies show that listeria often causes miscarriages or stillbirths when consumed by pregnant women. Luckily, you can kill any listeria on your hot dogs by heating them sufficiently above 160 degrees Fahrenheit for over 2 minutes, but many women choose not to take the risk. Hot dogs also contain a potentially harmful preservative called nitrates. Research shows that nitrates can cause cancer when consumed, and their effects on a fetus are still unknown. However, since cancer is so serious, there's a good chance that nitrates are bad for an unborn baby. These two ingredients in the common hot dog are both potentially dangerous, so eating them can be risky during your pregnancy.
Of course, there are women who go through their entire pregnancy eating two hot dogs per day with no negative outcome. However, if you're looking to err on the side of caution, avoiding hot dogs altogether is a good way to do it. Aside from their potentially risky bacteria and preservatives, hot dogs are unhealthy in general, so it might be difficult to maintain a healthy weight and nutrition by eating too many of them. They are deliciously salty and tempting, but they essentially provide empty calories. Even turkey dogs would make for a better choice if you're looking for the hot dog experience, but food with less sodium and more vitamins would be a better choice overall. Cravings can be hard to ignore, but it's especially important that you do ignore them when you're craving foods that could harm you and your baby.
The hot dogs purchased from street vendors are especially dangerous and can be contaminated because the water they are heated in is well below 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, the cheese that they are garnished with can harm the pregnant mother and the fetus if it is not pasteurized- bleu cheese, Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Feta, Gorgonzola and Mexican style cheeses that include queso blanco and queso fresco, for instance, are often not pasteurized and thus are unsafe for pregnant mothers.
Packaged hot dogs are usually rich in preservative nitrates and nitrites that can be harmful. There are local health food stores that sell nitrite-free chicken and turkey hot dogs. They seem to be the safer bet but the possibility of contamination cannot be ruled out. Hot dogs are also high in fat and salt that are not good for your body or your baby.
Hot dogs are best avoided during pregnancy when your immune system is weak and you and your baby become vulnerable to foodborne illnesses.