It makes sense that you want sausage given the wide range of flavors and variations available.
But is it okay to consume when expecting?
The short answer is that eating sausage while pregnant is safe.
To prevent sickness in both you and your child, you must abide by a few food rules.
Here are some varieties of sausages you can eat without getting sick, some tips for cooking them, and when to notify your doctor if you have any concerns.
Read on to find out more.
✅ Many of your favorite sausages are safe to eat during pregnancy.
✅ Make sure to properly store your meat, prepare food with clean tools and surfaces, and cook it at the proper temperatures to get rid of any harmful parasites and bacteria.
✅ If you can’t be sure that these instructions were followed, think about skipping a dish.
✅ Making the extra effort to maintain your and your baby’s health is definitely worth it.
When is it safe to eat sausage while pregnant?
There are four primary types of sausage, so it’s crucial to understand them before biting into that mouthwatering bratwurst. All of them start out as ground meat that has been combined with a variety of flavors, oil, salt, and perhaps preservatives or fillers. The beef mixture is then either pounded into patties or packed into a handy casing, which is frequently formed from animal intestines.
- Uncooked meat that has been chopped, ground, or pureed is used to make fresh sausage. Italian sausage, Mexican chorizo, bratwurst, breakfast links, and sausage patties are a few examples.
- Pre-cooked sausage is created from precooked meat puree that is either stuffed into casings before or after, as the name implies. Hot dogs, bologna, frankfurters, mortadella, and some “wursts” made in the German style are among examples (but you should always double-check with your butcher).
Another variety of cooked sausage is smoked sausage, which is smoked in a smoker or smokehouse over a low-burning fire. Examples include kielbasa and andouille.
- A charcuterie board frequently contains cured sausage. Fresh meat is used, which is salted before being allowed to air dry for a few weeks or months. Coppa, Genoa salami, and Spanish chorizo are a few examples.
What’s safe, then?
Any newly cooked sausage is safe to eat, as long as you consume it while it’s still hot and not after it’s been left out for a while. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises you to be mindful of temperature as well:
- Aim for an internal temperature of 160°F (71.1°C) for sausage made with lamb, hog, beef, or veal.
- For dishes made with chicken or turkey, aim for a slightly higher temperature of 165°F (73.8°C).
As long as you’ve followed these food safety precautions, your favorite fresh sausages (such as breakfast links, pork sausage, Italian sausage, some bratwurst, and bockwurst, etc.) and cooked/smoked sausages (such as hot dogs, braunschweiger, Cotto salami, Polish sausage, kielbasa, etc.) are probably safe.
When sausage is not acceptable while pregnant?
Salami, pepperoni, some chorizos, and prosciutto are examples of cured sausages (also known as cold cured meats), which you might wish to avoid. Naturally, unless you properly prepare them before eating. For instance, you might be able to consume pepperoni on top of a pizza that has been baking in your oven at a high temperature.
The USDA warns that cured meats might contain the bacteria E. coli, which can lead to foodborne illness. Even while the use of salt, lactic acid, and other additives frequently eliminates bacteria, high-risk individuals (such as youngsters and pregnant women) are best served by sticking to heat-treated meats.
Worrying about consuming undercooked or otherwise tainted meat that might cause foodborne illnesses applies to all kinds of sausage. Even previously cooked foods, such as hot dogs, might contain pathogens like Listeria and shouldn’t be consumed unless properly heated.
The parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can result in the infection toxoplasmosis, is another issue with meat. The consumption of foods such as undercooked meats is the primary cause of about 50% of toxoplasmosis cases in the US. Take caution when eating sausages made with these meats or stay away from them entirely as they are extremely high risk.
Depending on the meat, cook all fresh sausage to an internal temperature of between 160°F (71.1°C) and 165°F (73.8°C). The ideal temperature for pre-cooked sausages to reach is 165°F (73.8°C), or steaming hot. A cheap food thermometer is available online or at large box retailers.
Furthermore, however how tempting it can be, you should never sneak a piece of uncooked sausage.
The risk of cross-contamination is another. Always clean any cutting boards, countertops, utensils, knives, or other kitchen appliances that come into contact with raw meats before preparing other foods. It is sufficient to thoroughly wash the affected area with hot water and dish soap before thoroughly rinsing.
While you’re at it, make sure to keep any raw meats separate from other ingredients when storing them in the refrigerator or preparing food. You might even want to make sure you keep them apart in the grocery cart, even though it might seem excessive.
Last but not least, always thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water after handling meat. All sausages (aside from cured varieties) can go bad without proper refrigeration even before opening.
Additional factors to consider while pregnant
A typical Italian sausage has an impressive amount of protein in just one link (70 grams). However, it also contains 26% of the recommended daily salt intake for adults and 27% of the recommended daily fat intake.
So, eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and other protein-rich foods in addition to your favorite sausages in moderation. Additionally, you might want to avoid meals like sausage, hot dogs, pepperoni, and similar items if heartburn is a problem throughout your pregnancy.
These may be heartburn triggers, which means they start your stomach’s production of acids, resulting in the uncomfortable burning in your esophagus. NOT AT ALL FUN.
If you’re looking for a replacement, you might even think about experimenting with plant-based substitutes like Beyond Sausage. It has less saturated fat than its animal equivalent and offers 16 grams of protein per link. It is available in three flavors: Original Bratwurst, Italian, and Sweet Italian.
Symptoms you’ve eaten hazardous sausage
A touch-off today? Fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pains may indicate exposure to pathogens like E. coli or Listeria. If you believe you may have consumed contaminated food, speak with your doctor. Toxoplasmosis symptoms include things like:
- Muscle aches
- tense neck
- enlarged glands
Some individuals might not experience any symptoms at all. Unfortunately, it still remains possible for the infection to pass through the placenta and infect your baby.
Between 300 and 4,000 newborns are thought to contract toxoplasmosis each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It may result in a variety of health problems for infants, such as hearing loss, eyesight, or developmental delays. Some kids might not experience these problems for several years after their birth.
Consult your doctor about the best course of action if you experience symptoms or suspect you may have had undercooked or raw sausage.
To check for infections or problems, your doctor may want to keep a closer eye on you and your infant.