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Can Pregnant Women Eat Summer Sausage?

If you’re like me you have loved summer sausage most of your life, but there have also been times throughout your life that you’ve been pregnant – or you’re pregnant now?

And that raises some very important questions regarding your love for delicious summer sausage.

Well, the truth is that you might have a very good reason to feel concerned about eating your favorite summer sausage. There’s something about deli meats and meats that can be kept out of the fridge safely that pregnant women should know about.

What is summer sausage?

Summer sausage is an American term, for any sausage or meat that does not require refrigeration prior to being opened and eaten.

Summer sausage consists of quality meats like salami, dry sausage, or any fermented and fully cooked meat that remains packaged until eaten.

Over the years, there have been hundreds of flavors from various brands developed – adding to the wide array of choices when it comes to summer sausages. Most people generally love summer sausage – pregnant women included.

Some of the most popular summer sausages include; Hickory Farms Farmhouse Sausage, Dan the Sausagemans, and Klements Garlic Summer Sausage. Most people take summer sausage on hikes or camping trips since it doesn’t go bad over time.

Summer sausage is pre-cooked, therefore all you need to do is cut it, and enjoy!

Why do doctors and obstetricians advise pregnant women against consuming summer sausage?

Even though summer sausage is delicious for most people, pregnant women are advised against consuming it. Dried meats fall in line with deli meats, in the way that deli meat can present a certain type of foodborne illness called; listeria.

Listeria is harmful to both mom and baby if contracted – since it’s a highly contagious infection it’s advised for pregnant women to heat up their deli meats or summer sausage upon deciding to consume it.

Although pregnant women can consume summer sausage if it’s heated up to a certain degree

If summer sausage was your absolute favorite prior to pregnancy, and you just can’t envision not having some this summer – you have the option to heat it up properly.

When summer sausage is heated to 165 degrees, it is safer to consume for pregnant women.

It is advised for the pregnant community to heat all pre-cooked or packaged meats to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before consuming. This ensures that any foodborne pathogens have been eliminated.

In other words, heat your summer sausage to the point of it steaming if you decide to partake in this summer delicacy. If this isn’t an option, it’s better to err on the safer side and just have a different snack.

I already ate summer sausage and now I’m worried?

So you already ate some summer sausage, huh? Don’t panic, it happens… Now your job is to keep an eye out for signs of listeria infection.

If you have contracted listeria, then you’ll have a series of symptoms present within hours, days, or even up to a few months after you’ve consumed the food that’s infected with listeria.

Listeria is a foodborne illness present in deli lunch meats or summer sausage.

It’s a bacterium that is harmful to the body regardless if it’s pregnant or not, though it can be especially harmful to the body during pregnancy thus pregnant women are advised against risking contamination.

While some women might not even experience minor symptoms of listeria, others can become increasingly sick with flu-like symptoms – or have worsening symptoms such as miscarriage.

The bacteria of listeria can be present in refrigerated or dry meats, and ready-to-eat foods. It’s not only lunch meat that contains listeria – but it can also be found in produce harvested from infected soil.

There are methods in place to prevent listeria from spreading, but the risk isn’t worth the possibility of contracting this bacteria – especially since everyone reacts differently once sick.

Animals can carry the bacterium of listeria without even seeming symptomatic – thus it’s hard to pinpoint the exact location that listeria is present.


Listeria can come from all ready-to-eat foods made from a variety of ingredients

If you’ve already eaten a bit of summer sausage – there isn’t any reason to panic – I mean it’s likely that you’ve recently eaten a tomato or piece of fruit too which could also be contaminated.

From here on out don’t consume any more lunch or deli meats – and just be cautious about going out to parties where other people provide the meals and snacks.

Listeria can also be found in ready-to-eat foods made from; seafood, poultry, dairy, and summer sausage varieties.

If you’re worried that something might contain any of these ingredients – ask someone who might know or avoid the food altogether.

Symptoms of listeria range from mild to severe flu-like symptoms

If you’ve contracted the listeria bacterium otherwise known as L. monocytogenes the symptoms may or may not show up right away – there have been reports of people coming down ill with listeria days, weeks, or even months after having eaten the infected foods.

Symptoms of listeria include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck and muscle aches
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance

Some pregnant women who contract listeriosis, might not present any symptoms at all but can pass the illness onto their unborn baby. And in other unfortunate cases, listeriosis poisoning can sadly result in maternal death.

Both the mother and baby are at high risk for serious complications if listeria is contracted – at all costs, you should prevent this illness.

Pregnant women are ten times more likely to contract listeriosis than non-pregnant persons

Once you’ve got a bundle of joy in your womb, it means your immune system is already working overtime. Being pregnant puts women at risk ten times more likely to develop listeria once infected by the bacterium.

In the first trimester of pregnancy, the baby is at a greater risk for infant death or serious complications. Yet, later in pregnancy, the mother becomes more at risk to have negative consequences from listeria, ranging from premature labor to death.

Babies can be stillborn, have a low birth weight, or develop a wide range of health problems such as; paralysis, seizures, blindness, or impairments of the vital organs. Though this is not extremely common, it is a risk factor and does happen.

That’s why doctors and obstetricians advise pregnant women to avoid ready-to-eat meats if possible.

What measures can I take to prevent listeria during pregnancy for my own household?

It’s better to be ahead of the game than behind the game when it comes to listeria. There are a number of way’s you can help prevent illness from listeria from happening in your own household.

Keep your refrigerator at an all-time low temperature

Your fridge needs to be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or under to create the most optimal conditions for the food stored in your refrigerator.

While your freezer should be kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit – be sure to check the temperature of your refrigerator frequently throughout your pregnancy to ensure it is in the proper range of temperature.

Clean your fridge and freezer often

Keeping your refrigerator clean all of the time will be one of the best ways to prevent any type of foodborne illness from spreading. This ensures that your fridge is safe to store foods inside of it – what it’s designed for.

When you keep your fridge free of any rotting foods and mold then other bacteria cannot grow on all of the food stored within the fridge.

Clean spills right when they happen

If you spill a glass of milk or a bit of sauce or anything for that matter, clean it up right away. It’s easier to clean up a spill right when it happens than it is to leave it to clean up after it’s dried up.

So why not just clean it up the moment it happens, I know we parents have a lot going on all day long, but it’s better to just clean up the spilled milk than it is to contract a foodborne illness after the fact.

Get in the habit of wiping up spills right when they happen during your pregnancy, and you’ll have a great system once your baby is actually here. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.

Wash down the walls and shelves of your fridge with hot soapy water

A few times a month wipe down the walls of your refrigerator with hot soapy water – this ensures that any bacteria don’t have the chance to thrive in your fridge.

Creating a cleaner environment overall for food storage is optimal for food to stay fresh over time.

Baking soda is also a good way to keep bacteria in check, place a small cup of baking soda on the shelf inside your fridge to keep everything sanitary.

Don’t put hot food inside your refrigerator at any time

If you’ve made dinner a bit late, then be sure to separate the food into smaller containers where the food can undergo rapid cooling. Placing hot food in your fridge can warm up the food surrounding it – raising the overall temperature of your refrigerator.

Try to cook foods earlier in the day, that way you can heat up the food to eat rather than trying to cool it down prior to bedtime.

I know as a mother to 5 kids, dinner is late to the table more often than not – something I’m trying to correct with experience – it’s not fun to try to cool food down in a short amount of time.

If the food in your refrigerator has reached an expiration date then throw it out

Expiration dates are there to help you, while some foods can obviously be eaten a few days after the expiration date – most foods should follow the rule. If it’s expired, then try to remove it from your fridge.

Once a week or every two-weeks go through the items in your fridge to determine if they’re good or bad – toss anything that has mold, smells funky, or has reached the expiration date.

If you don’t want to throw out food items that have reached the expiration date – at least move it to the front of the fridge so that your family can grab that food next to be eaten the same day.

Meat-free summer sausage is a safer choice of ‘meat’ to consume during pregnancy

The good news is that there are many-many meat-free summer sausage alternatives. This wasn’t the case 40 years ago when your parents were pregnant, so consider yourself one fortunate pregnant lady.

You can choose from various companies that include ingredients that are suitable for you – with different flavor profiles to the meat-free summer sausages as well.

Many plant-based companies use vital wheat gluten as the main ingredient in their summer sausages, so if you have a wheat intolerance, this may not be the best option for you.

Getting a meat-free option isn’t difficult in today’s world, so if you just can’t see yourself going all summer without any summer sausage – try it out!

Below are the best plant-based companies that make summer-sausage that doesn’t contain any meat

Here are a few recommendations of plant-based summer sausage companies –

Renegade Foods is a plant-based company that’s highly spoken of by consumers

This company has a great team of entrepreneurs, scientists, and creators – who aim to deliver innovative creations to their customers. Making meat-free products that won’t put a major dent in your pocket.

Renegades derive their ingredients from quality sources, ensuring that your body will absolutely feel good after consuming their products. The thing with vegan-meats is that when they contain quality ingredients, they taste good.

This company stands by offering flavorful products that even meat lovers can get behind. If you haven’t tried vegan meats yet, this is a great company to order from.

Three Girls Vegan Creamery is an artisan crafter of meat-free products

This popular company has a selection of meat-free sausage, as well as, summer sausages for you to choose from during pregnancy. They offer high-quality dairy-free cheeses too if that’s your thing.

Three Girls is truly artisan when it comes to vegan foods, made with superior ingredients and bold flavors. While you’re there, check out their mashed-potato pizza and delicious calzones.

The last and best option is to make it yourself with the ingredients you’ve purchased at your local grocery store

The first step to making vegan summer sausage is… confidence – that’s right – tell yourself how successful you’ll be at homemade summer sausage. After that, you’ll need a good recipe for summer sausage like the one at The Heartie Kitchen.

Ingredients for summer sausage (just to get an idea):

  • Tofu
  • BBQ sauce
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Soy sauce
  • Various spices
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Liquid smoke
  • Wheat gluten

These are just some of the ingredients used when making your own summer sausage, the directions go pretty in-depth – so I’ll save us both and let Heartie Kitchen explain the details.

You can always look around at recipes, then customize the herbs and spices to your liking.

Is summer sausage really all that harmful to pregnant women? This group of real mothers has an opinion of their own

A group of pregnant mothers on speak openly about eating summer sausage and lunch meats – saying that they feel great afterward and have not fallen ill.

Question presented by Mama23toA:

“Can pregnant women eat summer sausage? Summer sausage, cheese, and crackers have been on my mind all week!! I’m jw if it’s okay to eat it since we’re not supposed to eat lunch meat? It is one of the very FEW thing’s that sound good to me.”

Answer by kewi13:

“I just had some last week lol didn’t seem harmful :)”

Answer by bsspiker:

“Lunchmeat is cooked but doesn’t have a lot to preserve it…or correction, it shouldn’t. Summer sausage has salts added and it is a lot drier than lunch meats making it an unhappy place for bacteria to grow. Listeria monocytogenes are the bacteria of concern and it has been found in summer sausage, but it was found in a study to grow poorly. I would eat summer sausage without reservation, just be aware of food recalls in the news and avoid anything that has been recalled.”

If these women aren’t concerned about eating summer sausage, and they have proceeded to eat it without reservation – it causes us to question – what are the odds of actually becoming ill from the minimal risk that summer sausage presents?

Heat all summer sausage that you plan to consume to steaming hot temperature

It’s advised by professionals to heat all meat of any kind to temperatures above 165 Fahrenheit if you plan to consume it during your pregnancy.

Eat the meat that you’re planning to promptly, leaving no time for any type of harmful bacteria to grow at room temperature.

Heating meat at or above 165 degrees Fahrenheit gives heat the chance to eliminate potentially harmful bacteria from growing at all.

In Conclusion

During pregnancy, it’s best to avoid summer sausage all together, due to risks of contracting listeria.

Though other types of foods also present this risk, so if you find yourself wondering “what now?” because you’re reading this article after you’ve already eaten summer sausage – don’t fret.

Oftentimes ladies end up eating summer sausage, deli meats, or ready-to-eat meats without even realizing they are indeed pregnant.

It happens, and when it does, stressing out about what’s going to happen next is not the best approach for you or your unborn baby.

In fact, I have eaten lunch meat before I knew I was 4.5-months pregnant, though I did have a little frantic thought pattern after I discovered I was pregnant a few weeks later – I kept in mind that it had already happened.

No turning back after it does, it’s just not a good idea to eat ready-to-eat meats after you have discovered your pregnancy.

The potential risk that summer sausage presents to you as a pregnant mother and your fetus is not worth any chances of the consequences.

Try to enjoy a variety of whole foods to sustain a well-balanced diet throughout your entire pregnancy. The key to staying healthy is supporting your immune system continuously.

Medical Disclaimer. All content and media on the MomInformed Website is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.


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