There are some very common foods that are simply too dangerous to eat while you are pregnant. This can be a huge problem because these foods are everywhere, and a pregnant woman is often very hungry. What this means is that you have to be very careful about what you eat while you’re pregnant. Some popular foods, including deli meat while pregnant, can put you and your baby in danger.


Is It Safe to Eat Deli Meat While Pregnant?

The best answer to this question is only when such meats are steaming hot. It is not safe for pregnant women to eat cold cuts because of bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes which can cause a nasty kind of food poisoning known as listeriosis.

Listeriosis can quickly turn into a potentially deadly infection known as meningitis and cause serious blood infections. Meningitis can lead to paralysis, mental illness, disability and death because it affects the brain.

Listeria can also reach your baby through placenta, causing preterm labor, miscarriage or other damages to your baby so it is very important to follow the precautions provided below.

How to Eat Deli Meat While Pregnant to Avoid Lysteria

What this means is that it is okay for a pregnant woman to eat a hot pastrami sandwich or a hot dog fresh off the grill. That means you should be very careful in restaurants and delis and make sure the food is steaming hot when it is brought to you.

  • At home or at the office, use the stove or the microwave to heat deli meats until they steam before eating them. If you don’t see steam, the bacteria could still be alive.
  • You can prevent the spread of listeria by keeping all meat in secure containers. Don’t allow the juices from the meat to come into the containers because they spread the bacteria.
  • You should also make a habit of washing your hands after eating deli meat.


The best way to avoid listeria is to eat hot sandwiches or soups instead of cold meat sandwiches for lunch. Grilled sandwiches such as grilled cheese or Reuben sandwiches are a great substitute for regular deli sandwiches because they supply protein and calcium.

Another substitution you can try is to put shredded meat, such as pork, turkey, or chicken, on a sandwich. Like deli meats, the shredded meats must be heated to steaming before you eat them.

Know the Signs of Listeriosis

It takes between two and 30 days for a case of listeriosis to develop. Unfortunately, many pregnant women ignore this disease because its symptoms are close to those of the flu. Symptoms of listeriosis include:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Nausea
  • Stomach ache
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Convulsion or disorientation
  • Stiff neck

Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you develop any of these symptoms while pregnant. If listeriosis spreads to the nervous system, meningitis can develop and cause serious damage.

Other Common Foods You Should Avoid While You Are Pregnant

If you want to remain healthy and protect your baby, apart from deli meat while pregnant there are several other popular foods you’ll need to avoid. The foods you should stay away from include:

1. Raw and Rare Meat

Raw and rare meat can contain several kinds of bacteria. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any meat that is still red or has visible blood on it. Meat should be cooked all the way through. It is also a good idea to avoid barbecued and grilled meats because they are not always cooked thoroughly. It is safe to eat shredded barbecue meat as long as it is served steaming hot.

2. High Mercury Fish

Many kinds of fish, including shark, king mackerel, tilefish and swordfish, contain high levels of mercury. Mercury is a highly toxic substance that can damage your baby’s brain. If you really want to eat fish, choose those that contain omega 3 fatty acids and low level of mercury. Also be careful with fish used in sushi and talk to your healthcare provider about your diet choices.

3. Raw Seafood and Shellfish

Raw seafood, such as sushi and oysters on the half shell, can contain listeria and other dangerous bacteria. These foods also contain high levels of mercury and other dangerous pollutants that can damage a developing fetus in the womb. The bottom line is that pregnant women should stay out of sushi bars and seafood restaurants.

4. Smoked Seafood

Despite what some people think, smoked seafood is not safe for pregnant women to eat. When smoked seafood is stored in refrigerators or on shelves, it can become infected by bacteria. Smoked fish can also contain high levels of mercury. Canned smoked seafood is safe as long as you eat it right out of the can. Smoked seafood is also okay in a cooked dish as long as the dish is served steaming hot.

Watch a video to learn more foods that you should watch out for during pregnancy: