Salami is a delectable cured meat crafted from blends of beef or pork and enriched with an array of spices. It has earned its place as a versatile ingredient, gracing pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, and charcuterie boards. With its reputation as a convenient high-protein meat, salami’s culinary presence is undeniable.
However, as pregnancy prompts heightened consideration of dietary choices, many expectant mothers often ask whether salami is a safe option or whether there’s a need for concern. In this post, I’m answering all your burning questions surrounding the safety of consuming salami, including the quote “do’s” and “don’ts” for salami during pregnancy.
Can You Eat Salami When Pregnant?
There are a lot of myths and varying opinions on whether or not salami is safe to eat while pregnant. Salami is a type of cured meat, typically made from beef or pork, and it’s seasoned with various spices and herbs. Let’s talk through the things to consider when evaluating whether salami can be safely included in your pregnancy diet.
Is salami healthy?
Salami is considered a “processed meat” choice. While this may sound “bad” and has a negative social stigma, it can actually be included in a healthy diet. There are many nuances to this discussion (and all the details and research are discussed inside The Prenatal Nutrition Library!). The primary concerns raised about processed meats from a health standpoint involve perceived associations between processed meats and cancer and nitrates (preservatives) in processed meats to keep them from spoiling.
In regards to cancer risk, there are no significant associations between red and processed meat intake and increased risk of any cause of death. It is true that nitrates aren’t a “beneficial” part of processed meats. We do recommend choosing options without added nitrates and nitrites when possible. However, even those with nitrates aren’t as risky as they are made out to be if consumed within moderation and in the context of a nutrient-dense diet.
Is salami safe to eat?
The other aspect of this discussion is food safety. A pregnant person is more susceptible to foodborne illnesses like Listeriosis (a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through contaminated foods). Processed meats like salami have been associated with listeriosis outbreaks in the past. However, heating deli meats and other processed meats (including salami) to 165 degrees F greatly reduces the risk of listeria.
Additionally, although listeriosis can be very serious when contracted during pregnancy, it’s also overall rare. Furthermore, other foods that are actually encouraged to be eaten during pregnancy, like lettuce, actually show up on outbreak lists more often. At the end of the day, it’s a personal decision weighing the risk vs. benefits for YOU personally. Dive deeper into the research on this topic with me inside The Prenatal Nutrition Library.
Tips For Eating Salami While Pregnant
Cook to a safe temperature.
Thoroughly cooking salami before eating makes it safe to enjoy it during pregnancy. Cooking salami kills and reduces the risk of potential pathogens, making it a safer option. Just like with deli meat during pregnancy, ensure that your salami is “steaming hot” or cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C) to destroy any harmful bacteria that might be present effectively. This practice not only enhances safety but also imparts a warm, savory twist to your salami indulgence.
Proper preparation and storage
To minimize the risk of foodborne illness, it’s crucial to handle and store all foods, including salami, with care. Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces thoroughly before and after handling food. Store salami in the refrigerator at or below 40°F (4°C) to deter bacterial growth. Always consume or cook the salami before its expiration date to maintain its quality and safety.
Choose high-quality sources
Opt for salami from reputable sources that prioritize safety and quality. Trusted brands of salami that adhere to food safety standards can reduce potential risks. We recommend reading labels and ideally choosing an option free from added sugars as well as added nitrates and nitrites.
Variety with food intake is always a good idea. Enjoying salami occasionally and in reasonable portions can help you savor its flavors and leave room for a plethora of other protein sources. Balance your diet with a variety of nutrient-rich foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, to ensure you and your baby receive essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy pregnancy.
If you find yourself hesitating about consuming salami, it’s okay to skip it. Feel free to explore alternatives that can help you meet your protein needs. Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, and hard-boiled eggs are examples of other quick protein options.
You can find a ton of delicious and nutritious meal ideas inside my app, The Prenatal Nutrition Library, including full trimester-specific meal plans!
Skip the guilt
Despite the myths about eating processed meat, it is not scientifically accurate to say they cause cancer or any other disease. Salami and other processed meats can provide a quick and convenient source of protein. They can absolutely be included as part of a well-balanced and nourishing diet during pregnancy. Explore the details and research on eating meat during pregnancy inside The Prenatal Nutrition Library.
Call your physician/healthcare provider if you experience symptoms of foodborne illness.
Listeriosis and other foodborne illnesses can be very serious when contracted during pregnancy. If you have any symptoms of foodborne illness or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare team. Symptoms could include things like diarrhea and vomiting. Again, this does not mean eating cold salami during pregnancy WILL automatically cause foodborne illness. Any food could cause illness.
Salami can be safely eaten during pregnancy with a few considerations. The best practice is to heat it before eating.
Salami can very safely be eaten during pregnancy when heated to 165 F. There is a slightly increased food safety risk when consuming it cold versus heated. Remember, it’s ultimately a personal choice how and if you decide to include any food in your pregnancy diet. The goal is to weigh the risks to benefits and make the best informed choice for YOU to create an enjoyable and healthy pregnancy journey.
Also, sign up for The Prenatal Nutrition Library, where you can search THOUSANDS of foods, nutrients, and questions on pregnancy nutrition! The app provides quick, clear, and evidence-based answers at your fingertips. Want to try a sample first? Download The Prenatal Nutrition Library app for FREE on Apple or Android to peek inside!