Baseball season, barbecues, or just plain because you feel like it, eating hot dogs is a guilty pleasure. Now that you are pregnant, however, you are probably wondering if it is still okay to enjoy them. So, can you eat hot dogs when you are pregnant? In this article we are going to discuss this so that you have al of the facts at your disposal. First, let’s start with some good news
Can you eat hot dogs while pregnant?
We are happy to report that yes, you can. There are some concerns that you will want to address, however. While the risks are minimal, still, there are risks, so let’s talk about those.
Risks from eating hot dogs during pregnancy
Let’s talk about the biggest risk first. There is a type of bacterium called ‘Listeria’. Usually it is not a problem. A healthy immune system can normally ‘shake it off’ but if you have a weakened immune system then it can develop into a disease called Listeriosis. As your immune system is weakened when you are pregnant, this is a valid concern. With Listeriosis, Mom won’t notice much more than a set of symptoms that could occur for many other reasons during a pregnancy. She could feel nauseous, experience a small amount of stomach pain… very innocuous, it would seem. The problem is that Listeriosis can cause developmental disorders and even miscarriage or stillbirth with a developing fetus. Thankfully, listeriosis is rare and there are things that you can do to help prevent it.
If you wish to eat hot dogs during your pregnancy and the thought of Listeriosis terrifies you then you will be glad to know that prevention is fairly simple. Make sure that the hot dogs are adequately cooked. We should note at this point that hot dogs aren’t the only potential Listeria hosts…. bratwurst, bologna, olive loaf are other examples. Basically, any deli meats should be approached with suspicion and high heat. You’ll want them cooked at 165 degrees, as this will kill bacteria that is present and reduce your chances of contracting Listeriosis from ‘rare’ to ‘almost impossible’. Also, no eating cold hot dogs. It is as easy as that. So, what if you are attending a barbecue and want to enjoy a hot dog?
Grilled hot dogs
Are grilled hot dogs a risk for Listeriosis? Probably not.. Generally with grills you are looking at a 300+ temperature, which will kill the listeriosis but there is another problem to consider. They come in the form of two chemicals known as ‘polyaromatic hydrocarbons’ and ‘heterocyclic amines’. These chemicals can be produced when meat is cooked at high temperatures, causing fat to drip down and produce chemical-carrying smoke. Eating this can transfer these chemicals to your fetus. Avoiding this involves avoiding charred food and avoiding grilling fatty meat. You can still eat hot dogs while pregnant, just be safety conscious.
Are there any other issues with hot dogs and pregnancy?
Well, there are concerns with Sodium nitrate. Employed in food preservatives, it another factor to consider if you want to eat hot dogs when you are pregnant. The purpose of Sodium nitrate in hot dogs is to combat Listeria, which it does do quite effectively, but the chemical has also been linked to heart disease and the possibility of developing pancreatic cancer. This one is quite easy to avoid like the first two, in this case you can purchase brands which do not employ nitrates.
” These chemicals can be produced when meat is cooked at high temperatures”
Yikes! So hot dogs can still be eaten safely during pregnancy?
Yes. With the precautions that we have listed, hot dogs should be just fine. Just like with many other aspects of life, now that you are pregnant there are a few rules that you will have to follow until that 9 month creation phase ends and your little one arrives. Still, in regards to hot dogs, if you are terrified of the risks then there is also another alternative, which you could employ in order to feel that craving.
‘Alternative’ hot dogs
Now, now, we heard you say ‘yuck!’. Don’t be like that! ‘Meats’ made from vegetables have come a long way. These are not the faux-meats of yesterday that tasted like stuffing. Some of the brands now can really surprise you. After all, everyone has read a story about people getting mad at a company or a particular vegetarian friend who has fooled people with imitation meat (amusing until someone ‘fooled’ has a particular vegetable allergy, but we digress). With that in mind, consider doing a little internet research. See which brands have ‘fooled’ the most people and give them a shot. You might be pleasantly surprised!
A note on meats in general
Aside from those hot dogs, be careful handling meats in general, especially during the third trimester when your immune system is more vulnerable. Keep raw meats away from other foods, keep kitchen spots where they are cut or otherwise handled very clean, and cook all of them thoroughly. While it is not a hazard one normally thinks of, there are bacterium that can colonize meats and make you ill when you are more susceptible.
Some final words
You asked us, ‘Can I eat hot dogs while pregnant’, and we hope that we have properly addressed the issue. With moderation and a little extra panning, you can eat them in perfect safety. Alternately, you can try some of the vegetarian alternative to see if they fulfill your craving for one of America’s favorite snacks. While the risks that we have advised of sound pretty severe, just remember that the solutions were also quite simple. Cook the meat properly, don’t overcook it, look for nitrate-free brands. In reality these are all simple (and the first two are common sense, really). With that in mind we hope that when summer arrives you will be eating those hot dogs with confidence. They aren’t so nutritious, sadly, but they sure are delicious!