The arrival of a new human being into the world is one of the few truly monumental moments in a person’s lifetime.
The miracle of a new, innocent life developing inside of you is something to behold. The flip side of being blessed is having more responsibility.
Vegetables, fruits, proteins, and other nutrient-dense foods are recommended by doctors as you shift your attention from yourself to your growing child.
You can eat hot dogs (or wieners, bockwurst, or frankfurters) without worry, even though they have been linked to listeriosis in pregnant women.
You should make sure the hot dog is cooked thoroughly and eaten while it’s still sizzling hot, especially since you’re a pregnant woman.
One of the most ubiquitous fast food items, these tasty treats are common fare at barbecues, ballgames, and picnics where ice cream is also a staple.
… The mystery surrounding the consumption of hot dogs while expecting remains unsolved. Why are they sometimes looked down upon?
You don’t have to give up sizzling hot dogs just because there are conflicting reports about whether or not they are safe for pregnant women.
All that’s required to enjoy this tasty snack is proper preparation and consumption (i.e., cooking at the proper temperature to kill bacteria and prevent food poisoning).
Can I Eat Hot Dogs While Pregnant?
Pregnant women frequently crave hot dogs (as well as related sausages like brats or bratwurst, bock, and frankfurters).
There is conflicting information about whether or not hot dogs are safe to eat while pregnant, depending on whether or not they have been cooked and to what temperature.
When served piping hot, hot dogs are safe for pregnant women to eat as long as they have an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius). Hot dogs can be cooked safely from listeria by grilling or microwaving them. Consuming a lukewarm or raw hot dog during pregnancy is not recommended.
Why Are Hot Dogs Considered Unsafe?
Listeria, which is found in raw or undercooked meat, can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.
Thus, the CDC cautioned pregnant women to avoid eating hot dogs in the late ’90s.
An outbreak of listeria infection (listeriosis) associated with deli meats and processed foods motivated this advice.
Consumption of tainted foods is probably the root cause of listeriosis, a disease brought on by listeria infection (a severe but uncommon bacterial illness).
The risk of ingesting listeria monocytogenes from tainted hot dogs is significantly increased due to the fact that these sausages are sometimes sold in pre-cooked form.
Thus, a pregnant woman is at increased risk of contracting the bacteria.
Make sure your hot dog is properly cooked to avoid this.
In addition to these dangers, eating hot dogs while pregnant may cause unneeded weight gain.
Are Nitrites and Nitrates Unsafe?
Sodium nitrites and nitrates are food preservatives that can be found in canned foods sold in grocery stores and shopping centers.
Because they are used to preserve meats, these preservatives could be harmful to your baby. Spina bifida and cleft palate are just two examples of the birth defects that might be more common as a result.
Due to this risk, hot dogs are generally discouraged for pregnant women.
However, if you cook at the correct temperature, verify with a thermometer to ensure safety, and eat moderately during pregnancy, you have nothing to worry about.
You could also talk to your doctor or midwife about what kinds of foods are safe to eat while pregnant.
What Quantity of Hot Dog is Ideal For a Pregnant Woman?
About 150 calories, 12 grams of fat, at least 7 grams of protein, about 12 grams of fat, and at least 500 milligrams of sodium can be found in a single hot dog.
Because of this, it’s important to watch what you eat while carrying a child. Having an unhealthy dependency on food can have serious consequences.
Hot dogs are probably safe for you and your kid to eat a few times a week.
Just like with any other food, moderation is key.
What Are the Associated Risks and Benefits of Eating Hot Dogs?
Millions of people worldwide regularly consume hot dogs, but this habit comes with both health benefits and dangers. In terms of hot dogs, consider the following:
- Add some sauerkraut to your hot dog and you’ll get the added benefit of better digestive health. Probiotics found in this fermented food improve nutrient absorption in the digestive tract.
- Nitrites and nitrates, used to increase shelf life and decrease bacterial activity, may increase the risk of cancer. If you want to play it safe, you should only buy foods that have been guaranteed to be free of nitrates and other potentially harmful substances.
- The nutritional make-up of processed meat has been linked to heart diseases, raising the risk of developing them. Meat with an unhealthy amount of fat is bad for your health, and a single hot dog has a lot of calories, fat, and saturated fat, all of which contribute to cardiovascular disease.
How Can I Prepare Hot Dogs that are Safe to Eat?
Contrary to popular belief, hot dogs are safe for pregnant women to eat.
However, as is to be expected, doctors are cautious about the foods their pregnant patients eat.
Food can both strengthen your immune system and provide a pathway for bacteria to enter your body, which is especially important to remember during pregnancy.
The packaging or storage environment may introduce contamination or cross-contamination.
To kill harmful bacteria like listeria, E. coli, or salmonella, you need to cook your hot dogs to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit before giving them to your child.
Make sure it’s safe to eat by using a thermometer. This lowers the probability that the pregnant woman will become ill from eating something that is tainted.
In addition, frozen hot dogs require special care when cooking on an outdoor grill or barbecue. They could be undercooked on the inside despite having a cooked exterior.
Make absolutely certain it is safe for you and your unborn child by checking the temperature with a meat thermometer.
In addition to fresh meat, processed meats like salami, deli meats, and cold cuts can also be contaminated and therefore require the use of a thermometer.
How to Cook Hot Dogs While Pregnant
- Put the hot dogs in the oven and bake them for at least ten minutes at a temperature of more than 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Meat that has been heated to this temperature is free of harmful bacteria. The wieners need to be flipped frequently while cooking to ensure even cooking.
- Simmer — Simmer for about 5 minutes. When you remove the hot dogs from the oven, they should still be sizzling. If you follow these steps correctly, you won’t risk contracting any kind of bacterial illness.
- Use a microwave by wrapping the wiener in some paper or a towel and nuking it for a couple of minutes. Use a thermometer to make sure the hot dogs are cooked properly.
- Grilling is one of the most popular methods for preparing meat, poultry, and fish. By heating the hot dog to a high enough temperature, bacteria are killed off. Be sure to try a hot dog right off the grill the next time you’re at a barbecue.
What Ingredients Are Contained In A Hot Dog
Chicken, beef, or turkey extracts, or a blend of these three, are the primary ingredients in making hot dogs.
The following are additional components:
- Powdered celery
- Concentrated beef stock
- Pureed garlic
- Protein-binding food starch
- Casings made from real sheep
- Nitrite of sodium
However, some components of a hot dog may not be safe for a pregnant woman to consume. Too much of the dextrose sugar used to make hot dogs brown and add flavor is dangerous during pregnancy.
Hot dogs use sodium nitrite and other preservatives to slow the growth of bacteria that could be dangerous to humans, but these ingredients are known to be harmful during pregnancy.
To protect your unborn child from harmful chemicals, you shouldn’t use any artificial sweeteners when cooking hot dogs.
What Kinds of Hot Dogs are Safe to Eat in Pregnancy?
Because they contain processed meat, hot dogs should be eaten with caution. Listeria monocytogenes is a harmful bacteria that causes listeriosis; therefore, hot dogs should be cooked thoroughly to a temperature that kills this bacteria.
Miscarriage is just one of the complications that can arise from listeriosis, a rare but dangerous foodborne illness.
Instead of relying on the hot dog’s ingredients, you should be more concerned with the cooking and serving temperatures. The ideal internal temperature for hot dogs is 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius).
If you’re cooking them at home and want to make sure they’re done, a meat thermometer is your best bet; if you’re eating them at a barbecue or somewhere else, the hot dog should be “steaming hot,” not just warm.
When cooking frozen hot dogs, especially on the grill or BBQ, extra caution is advised. They may look cooked on the outside but still be undercooked or cool on the inside. Only a meat thermometer can provide absolute certainty in this matter.
What Kind of Hot Dogs Are Unsafe for Pregnant Women?
In a nutshell, anything that isn’t devoured immediately upon removal from the stove. Typical prenatal hot dog dangers include:
- Everything eaten uncooked, without any preparation. In order to ensure that they are thoroughly heated, you must always cook them first.
- One sold by a vendor on the street, at a hot dog stand, at a gas station, or somewhere else where the dogs are kept warm but not hot. Those are the ones that are kept warm in a group in hot water or on a hot plate before being placed in a bun.
- Cooked hot dogs at a party or barbecue that have been taken off the grill or barbecue, plated, and then left for a while.
- Reheated hot dogs that are incorporated into another dish (e.g., a chopped-up salad)
- Any cooked or uncooked hot dog that has been improperly stored, such as being left out of the refrigerator for an extended period of time. This includes hot dogs that have been left out at room temperature or slightly above for an extended period of time before being cooked.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Hot Dogs in Tins, Jars or Cans?
Since virtually all hot dogs are prepared in the same fashion, the method of storage makes no difference as to whether or not they are safe to consume while pregnant. Pregnant women should always cook their food thoroughly, regardless of packaging.
Why Can’t Pregnant Women Eat Cold, Raw or Uncured Hot Dogs?
Since hot dogs are typically consumed at room temperature, the question of whether or not they can be consumed “raw” usually refers to their consumption cold, straight from the packet, pouch, or jar. Brine, other types of water, and vacuum-sealed pouches are common ways to preserve hot dogs for later use.
Hot dogs are more likely to become contaminated with listeria due to the way they are produced and stored, despite the fact that they are cooked before sale.
The risk of listeria in hot dogs is twofold: first, the factories themselves may experience listeria outbreaks in any of their machines at any time during production. This occurs infrequently but occasionally.
In the case of Bil Mar Foods in 1999 (source: jfoodprotection) and Bar-S Foods in 2016 (source: CNN), recalls were initiated only after problems were discovered.
Second, if hot dogs aren’t cooked to an appropriate temperature, the antimicrobial coatings or additives used to preserve them before sale may not be effective or may fail.
Listeria monocytogenes, the causative agent of listeria infection, is one of the microorganisms that can only be destroyed by cooking at an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius). Listeria grows well in refrigerated spaces because of the cool, dark, and moist conditions it prefers.
Pregnant women should avoid eating uncooked hot dogs because of the risk of listeria contamination when eating them cold, lukewarm, or straight from the package.
Help! I ate a Raw/Uncooked Hot Dog and I’m Pregnant – What Do I Do?
The first thing you should do if you accidentally eat a raw or undercooked hot dog is to calm down. Negative emotions like worry, guilt, and stress are not beneficial for you or your baby. Get down to brass tacks instead:
- Keep an eye on your symptoms (listeria can cause flu-like symptoms like headache, fever, and nausea, but this is not always the case).
- Seek medical attention immediately if you start to feel ill, even if you think it could be ‘normal’ pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness; be sure to mention when you ate the raw hot dog and what kind it was. They should provide additional guidance and keep an eye on your health.
- Keep in mind that listeria is extremely uncommon, so you probably won’t get sick. However, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Hot Dogs Containing Nitrates?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and its international counterparts, such as the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), currently agree that nitrate levels in food are within safe limits.
Nitrates (or sodium nitrate) should be kept below 500 ppm (parts per million) in food production to ensure safety, as specified by the FDA (source: FDA).
Nitrates occur naturally in some foods, but in order to preserve hot dogs and keep their color, manufacturers add them. Consuming nitrate-containing foods causes the body to produce carcinogenic nitrosamine compounds.
There have been no definitive studies on the effects of nitrates on pregnant women or their unborn babies at the levels found in food.
Of course, there’s also the fact that hot dogs aren’t exactly a nutrient powerhouse and, therefore, aren’t the best choice for pregnant women to eat.
Hot dogs, which also contain nitrates, should be consumed with caution (or avoided altogether) by expectant mothers.
Hot dog consumption, like that of many processed foods, should be limited in pregnant women if at all possible. Nitrate-free hot dogs are available at an increasing number of grocery stores, so you may want to try one of those instead.
What About All-beef, Veggie or Turkey Hot Dogs when I’m Pregnant?
The cooking temperature is the same regardless of the hot dog’s packaging or its ingredients. Listeria is not limited to infecting meat; it can also grow in vegetables.
Listeria can just as easily spread to pork hot dogs as it can to those made with beef. Turkey hot dogs and those made with soy protein or other alternative ingredients are also acceptable.
All hot dogs, regardless of their filling, fall under the category of processed foods and should be cooked to the same internal temperature as those made with standard meat before being consumed during pregnancy.
Even though veggie or turkey hot dogs have less fat than their fatty pork or beef counterparts, they still aren’t the healthiest choice for pregnant women.
Can I Eat Hot Dogs In The First, Second and Third Trimesters?
A hot dog is safe to eat during pregnancy as long as it is cooked all the way through and served piping hot. Keep in mind, though, that hot dogs are not exactly the healthiest option.
They are a poor nutritional choice because of their high calorie, fat, salt, and sodium content and presence of nitrates. During pregnancy, when you should be eating nutrient-dense, whole foods, these should be consumed sparingly.
Are Hot Dog Toppings Safe in Pregnancy?
Of course, hot dogs aren’t normally consumed singly. Here is a list of common additions to or components of a hot dog that you should avoid while pregnant:
- Regular hot dog buns are perfectly safe to eat during pregnancy, but many hot dog buns are made with white bread only, so pregnant women should try to choose whole grain / whole wheat / brown bread instead.
- You can safely enjoy condiments like mustard, relish, salsa, and ketchup throughout your pregnancy. However, keep in mind that some are quite acidic and may cause discomfort or indigestion if you have been prone to it during pregnancy.
- Raw onions, cooked onions, fried onions, or crispy onions are all safe for pregnant women to eat, but they all pose a similar risk of indigestion.
- It’s not common to see coleslaw and mayonnaise on hot dogs, but to each their own! Salads containing mayonnaise should be avoided during pregnancy unless it has been pasteurized. However, you should probably stay away from the coleslaw. Similarly, you can use any ingredient similar to slaw, like sauerkraut.
- Pasteurization of cheese is recommended. Cheese slices and processed cheese tend to fall into this category, despite the fact that they are theoretically safe during pregnancy. If you’re unsure, you can always check the type of cheese used. Generally speaking, hard cheeses are safe to eat.
- You shouldn’t eat salad (like lettuce) that wasn’t made by you, because it might be contaminated with listeria if it wasn’t properly washed.
- Keep in mind that common hot dog toppings can become contaminated with listeria and other microorganisms if stored improperly or for too long in the refrigerator.
Common sense should be used when considering what to eat during pregnancy, and this applies to all aspects of pregnancy nutrition. Don’t waste your time with hot dogs that have been sitting in stale brine all day and are only warm.
Don’t use the ketchup that’s been sitting in the heat all day, and skip the condiments if you suspect they might not be clean.
Hot dogs are safer to prepare at home, where both the cooking temperature of the hot dog and any toppings can be closely monitored. By keeping this in mind, you can have hot dogs in moderation while pregnant without risk to you or your unborn child.
Bottom Line on Eating Hot Dogs While Pregnant
That settles the matter. You now have all the information you need to make hot dogs that are delicious and safe for you and your unborn child.
Although excessive consumption of hot dogs is harmful to your health and that of your unborn child, we hope you will continue to enjoy them.
Please take care of yourself and have a healthy pregnancy.