Baseball is heating up, football is beginning, we’re all shouting and rooting for our team while we gobble hot dogs. Maybe they’re not the most nutritious food on the planet, but once in a while they’re fun. I like my dogs smothered in spicy mustard and sautéed onions. I always burp a lot afterward, but they sure taste good on the way down!
There is something all pregnant women, and those planning on becoming pregnant, should know about hot dogs – and luncheon meats, deli meats and unpasteurized milk products, too. Certain of these products can cause a form of food poisoning called listeriosis. Listeriosis is caused by a bacterium (Listeria monocytogenes) and is especially dangerous during pregnancy. When a pregnant woman is infected with listeriosis, she may have a miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth, or her newborn baby may become seriously ill and may die.
OK, no need to freak out here. Most people do not become ill when they eat Listeria-contaminated foods. However, healthy pregnant women are more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis and more likely to become dangerously ill from it. So that’s why it’s important to steer clear of potentially contaminated food.
A pregnant woman can help protect herself and her baby from listeriosis by following these guidelines from the FDA:
• Do not eat hot dogs or luncheon meats (including deli meats such as ham, turkey, salami and bologna) unless they’re reheated until steaming hot.
• Do not consume unpasteurized milk or foods made from it.
• Avoid soft cheeses, such as feta, brie, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco or Panela, unless the label on the cheese says it’s made with pasteurized milk. You don’t need to worry about hard cheeses, processed cheeses, and cream and cottage cheeses – they’re safe.
• Do not eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads. (Listeria thrives at refrigerator temperatures.) Canned and shelf-stable versions are safe.
• Avoid refrigerated smoked seafood unless it has been cooked (as in a casserole). Canned and shelf-stable versions are safe.
You can read more about food safety on our website.