Pregnancy Articles

Playing It Safe: Deli Meats

Listeria Could Be Lurking in Your Fridge

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A lunch-time sandwich of lean turkey and low-fat Swiss on whole-grain with lettuce, tomato and mustard is perfectly healthy - when you're not pregnant. But when you're eating for two, some foods in your refrigerator are not safe, including deli meats, hot dogs and refrigerated, ready-to-eat meats.

The danger comes from a bacteria called Listeria.

Listeria is found everywhere. Listeria can cause a food-borne illness called listeriosis, which is extremely dangerous for a pregnant women and her unborn baby. Listeriosis can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, and fetal death. A pregnant woman is more susceptible to Listeriosis because of the normal pregnancy changes that affect your immune system.

Listeria are unusual because they can grow at refrigeration temperatures of 40 degrees or below. Only cooking kills them. Therefore follow these food safety tips:
  • Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats unless they are reheated until steaming hot. That means your favorite sandwich is OK to eat if you heat the meat (in the microwave, for example) before putting it on the sandwich.
  • Do not store lunch meat for more than 3-5 days, and always store it in the coldest part of the refrigerator.

  • Do not eat refrigerated pate, and meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pate and meat spreads can be eaten.

  • Clean your refrigerator regularly.

  • Use perishable, ready-to-eat, and precooked items as soon as possible.
  • Make sure your refrigerator always stays at 40 degrees or below.
  • Listeriosis may cause flulike symptoms with fever, chills, muscle aches, diarrhea, and upset stomach. It can take a few days or even weeks to appear. Consult your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms or believe you have eaten a contaminated product.

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    About The Author

    Becky Hand
    Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. She teaches prenatal classes and counsels individuals, helping women eat right and stay fit before, during and after their pregnancies.
    Becky Hand

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