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Can Pregnant Women Eat Salami? Is it Safe?

When you’re pregnant there is a long list of dos and don’ts. If it’s your first time expecting, the number of rules can become overwhelming and sometimes confusing.

Many of these rules revolve around foods and drinks that are safe and unsafe to consume. But, what if your favorite food is on the “do not eat list” or you just have a craving for something you shouldn’t eat?

What’s a pregnant lady to do?

Well, if you’re a girl who loves her deli meat, including salami, you may find yourself in a pickle. That’s because deli meats are on the list of foods you shouldn’t eat during pregnancy.

Let’s take a look at whether it’s safe to eat salami when pregnant and why you may want to wait nine months to eat deli meats.

What Types of Meats are Classified as Deli Meats?

deli meats

When you think about deli meats, all of those meats you see at your local deli come to mind. These can be processed meats, meats that are sectioned or formed, or whole cuts.

Why Can’t Women Eat Deli Meats During Pregnancy?

Chances are your doctor has handed you a list of foods that you should avoid during pregnancy with deli meats near the top of the list.

There is concern that deli meats can be contaminated with the bacteria listeria. This causes listeriosis which can be a serious disease for pregnant women.

According to the CDC, an estimated 1,600 people become seriously ill with listeriosis every year. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to develop the condition.

While the chances of you being exposed to listeria are low, if your developing baby is exposed, it can lead to serious illness and even death.

Pregnant women who are exposed to listeria can also have a miscarriage, have a premature delivery, or give birth to a stillborn.

The government has taken steps to prevent exposure to listeria. Cold cuts are now sprayed with a food additive that helps prevent the bacteria before packaging, but the risk still remains.

Is It Safe to Eat Salami During Pregnancy?


Since listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking, salami and other deli meats can be safe to eat during pregnancy if they are heated. The American Pregnancy Association recommends cooking salami and other deli meats until they are steaming.

If there is any listeria present, this should kill it. If the salami is not steamed, the CDC recommends an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, the only way to be 100% safe is to avoid salami when pregnant as well as other deli meats.

Salami also often contains preservatives called nitrates that could be harmful to the fetus. If salami is undercooked, it can be a source of toxoplasma infection which is caused by bacteria.

A woman can pass this infection to her fetus. This can cause the baby to have vision problems or develop a learning disability after birth. In the most severe cases, it can lead to death.

Poorly cooked salami can also lead to food poisoning. Salami is also very high in salt, which is also harmful to both mom and baby

Some pregnant women often wonder if they can eat salami if it’s used as an ingredient in another dish. The same rules apply. If it’s been heated or steamed, you should be okay.

But, avoiding it is the only way to be completely safe.  Here are some dishes where heated or steamed salami may be safe to eat:

  • On top of a pizza- If the toppings are steaming hot and the meat is visibly sizzling
  • Soups and stews
  • In a toasted sandwich-only if the meat is steaming hot, not just warm
  • Dried salami- only if it’s heated until it’s steaming or sizzling

If you enjoy salami in any of those forms, it may be safe to eat during pregnancy. You can also ask your doctor if heating it in one of those forms would be safe for you.

If you do decide to heat salami and other deli meats heated, be sure to store them properly. The CDC recommends storing factory-sealed, unopened packages no longer than two weeks.

Any store opened packages and meat sliced at your deli counter should be refrigerated for no more than 3-5 days.

What Do I Do if I Ate Salami When Pregnant?

You ate a salami sandwich while you were pregnant, now what? The odds are in your favor that you’ll be okay. But, as with anything, you never know. 

Your food may have been contaminated with listeria if you start to experience one of these common symptoms of listeriosis:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

It’s important to know that you may develop a few symptoms after eating contaminated food, but it can also take up to 30 days or more before the first symptoms occur.

If you start to experience any of these symptoms while pregnant, especially after eating salami when pregnant or other deli meat, contact your doctor. It’s important to get evaluated as soon as possible so you can know if there are any serious problems.

Are there Any Deli Meats That Are Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?

deli meat

There is no “magic deli meat” that is completely safe to eat during pregnancy. Many doctors are on board with the meat being heated or steamed to be considered somewhat safe. Although the number of listeria cases are low nationwide, there is still an elevated risk for pregnant women.

Although the cravings can get intense, it’s best to avoid deli meats during pregnancy unless they’re heated up.

The Bottom Line

If you’re going to worry about listeria contamination during pregnancy, the best advice is to avoid salami and other deli meats. This way you can know that you’re not putting yourself or your baby at risk.

You can discuss your concerns with your doctor as well. But, if you’re having any reservations, you may just want to skip the deli cases for now. While you may be mad that you can’t eat your favorite food, it’s better to be safe than sorry.