What's the issue with pregnant women eating smoked meat?

Our experts answer your pregnancy questions

Smoked meat
Smoked fish is one thing to watch out for. No lox, no smoked salmon when you’re pregnant. The smoking process is not enough to kill harmful bacteria. It really doesn’t heat up the fish enough.

If smoked fish is used in hot dish (“casserole” for those of you reading this in Wisconsin!), you can eat it as long as it was cooked to at least 165 degrees F. That’s high enough to kill a bacteria called Listeria that could be a danger to your baby if they’re exposed to it.

If the lunch meat you love is smoked turkey or if smoked brisket or ham is on the menu for dinner, don’t eat it cold or room temperature either. The rule is to get it steaming hot to kill any organisms and eat it right away.

Because pregnancy affects your immune system, you’re more susceptible to food-borne illness. Pregnant women are 10 times more likely than other people to be infected with Listeria, for example. Then your baby may get it, too.

So just take the simple step of heating up any smoked fish or meat before you eat it.

Melissa Kitzman, certified nurse-midwife
Fairview Clinics – Bloomington, Oxboro
Fairview Center for Women – Edina

To learn more:
Make an appointment with a midwife or OB doctor or book a tour at The Birthplace.

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