food and nutrition, toxoplasma, listeria, listeriosis, safe food during pregnancy, pregnancy safety

Is salami safe during pregnancy?

Pregnant women are usually advised to avoid salami, or any other cured meat or fish during pregnancy, though they may have a craving for it. Rightfully so, because there are several reasons why eating salami in pregnancy is not a good idea.

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Salami is fermented, air dried and cured sausage, essentially raw meat that's been processed. It requires only room temperature for storage. The meat used to make salamis are pork, chopped beef, poultry, venison and lamb. Minced fat, wine, wheat, corn starch, salt, herbs, spices and vinegar are also added in it to produce a unique, mouthwatering flavor that many pregnant women crave. However, the risks may outweigh the taste.

Salami often contain preservatives called nitrates that could be harmful to the fetus. They also could be home to harmful bacteria called Listeria, especially if the salami is home-made. Listeria effects include a disease called Listeriosis which can appear within 12 -30 days of consuming the salami. This disease can cause defects in the unborn, still birth, miscarriage and other problems during pregnancy.

Undercooked salami have also been found to be a source of the toxoplasma infection which is caused by bacteria. This infection will be passed on by the mother to the fetus and could cause the baby to be visually impaired, develop a learning disability after birth, or even die. Poorly cooked salami can also lead to food poisoning. Salami is also very high in salt or sodium content, which is also harmful for both mom and baby. Although delicious, it is a zero nutrition food that contains only lots of fat and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. In addition, the high salt content in deli meats can cause hypertension and swelling.

While consuming salami from street vendors and carnivals is obviously a hazard, even home made salami poses health risks, especially when they undercooked. Though reheating salami until it's steaming will help kill bacteria, there are still contamination risks, and keep in mind, cooking will not remove the nitrates.

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