image001During active pregnancy, most women are extra cautious of their diet and nutritional intake. Even physicians advise expecting mommies to stay away from foods that are not grown naturally or any dietary nutrient that is ‘too processed’. In some high risk pregnancies, your doctor may even ask you to stay away from ‘ready to eat’ meals. One example of processed food is hotdogs. Hotdogs are not only readily available, in malls and stores but are also among the top favorite barbequed foods in get together and social gatherings or just for a lazy lunch at home. But is it safe to have hot dogs when you are expecting? Let’s find out.

Can You Eat Hotdogs When Pregnant?

Eating hotdogs during pregnancy is probably not safe.

One of the main risks with processed and precooked meat is that the likelihood of certain bacteria and other microorganisms is fairly high (especially if such meat has been processed for a considerable period of time). It must also be made sure that the meat being consumed is cooked properly at high temperature (above 160° Fahrenheit for at latest two to three minutes). The problem with most precooked meals is that you can never be too sure if it was cooked properly or not, also whether it was cooked for sufficient time or not.

Bacterial contamination. The risk of contamination with some bacterial organisms such as listeria is fairly high (especially in meat that is not fresh or contain artificial chemicals or preservatives). Although preserving salts such as sodium nitrates help in the prevention of bacterial growth in meat, high intake of sodium nitrate has also been associated with prostatic cancer and other disorders of blood vessels. Listeria, one of the common pathogenic bacteria, can cause listeriosis, an infection that may ultimately leads to a miscarriage.

Sensitivity to ingredients. Another issue with hotdogs is the use of complementing ingredients, such as cheese and spices. Most pregnant females develop moderate sensitivity to certain ingredients and spices during pregnancy and the use of soft cheese or unhealthy spices can lead to allergies or reactions such as bloating and flatulence, a common distress for many women during pregnancy. Some butchers offer preservative-free meat, which should be sought out as a compensatory option, if craving occurs.

What Other Foods to Watch Out For?

Besides the question: can you eat hotdogs when pregnant, you may also wonder if you can eat some other foods.

Foods to Avoid

Why Take Precaution and How to Properly Prepare

Refrigerated ready-to-eat foods

Refrigerated meals provide great ease in a busy everyday life, but one must not forget that precooked, refrigerated meals are more likely to serve as a storehouse for bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes, that have been known to cause devastating effects on pregnant women.

As a precaution women must make sure their food is cooked properly, and in case it is precooked, it should be warmed thoroughly. Storing food more than three to four days is also not recommended.

Burgers and other grilled meat or fish

Barbequed/ grilled meat is usually not cooked thoroughly, it should be made certain that any type of meat, be it fish, beef or chicken, should be cooked at a temperature between 140- 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Turkey and stuffing

It is a tradition to cook turkey as a whole; but often the internal temperature of turkey may be too low to kill internal bacteria. It is therefore suggested to cook the bird at high external temperature which will build up the internal temperature to 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, any stuffing should be cooked separately.

Unpasteurized juice and cider

Unless the juices are homemade and the fruits and vegetables were properly washed and peeled before use, one must only opt for pasteurized juices. Fruits and vegetables can be a good store for bacteria such as E.coli etc.

Smoked meats and meat spreads

Chicken spreads or smoked meat is usually cooked by smoking them, and not cooked properly. Also they may be bottled with preservatives, which is an additional concern for the optimal health of mother and unborn baby.

Unpasteurized soft cheeses

With soft cheese the risk of unpasteurized milk and related issues always remains. It is therefore advised to stay away from soft cheeses such as blue cheese, feta and brie. Alternative substitutes may include mozzarella and cheddar.


Sushi that includes raw meat as an ingredient is completely out of question! Although some kinds that involve steamed meat can be taken. Alternate such as deconstructed spring rolls or completely cooking the meat is preferable.

Fresh, raw vegetables

It may seem strange to include fresh vegetables as foods to watch out for, since natural foods are highly encouraged during pregnancy. Although it may be true, one must still keep in their mind the fact that vegetables are a source of microbes if not washed properly. Some vegetables such as alfalfa are a store for salmonella and E.Coli bacteria, if not cleaned properly before use. Wash and cook vegetables properly before eating.

What Are Some Other Precautions that Must Be Considered?

Besides these precautions, regularly visiting the doctor if symptoms like dehydration, fever or cough are felt persistently; cleaning the refrigerator and keeping at a low temperature of 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit can help prevent and diagnose any diseases or food contamination likely to occur by food consumption.

All in all, keeping a healthy diet is important during pregnancy, but keeping a cautious eye for the food being taken in is far more important. Since the food a pregnant woman eats does not only affect her, but also her baby. Similarly any disease or infection she might catch may not just affect her but also her baby.