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Can You Eat Beef Jerky While Pregnant? Is It Safe?

We have all heard of pregnancy cravings, right? The foods moms-to-be want to eat during their pregnancy can vary from normal snacks like cookies or fruit to the more crazy cravings like ice, coal, and even toothpaste!

Research suggests that between 50 and 90% of women will experience cravings during their pregnancy.

So what happens if you are craving beef jerky while pregnant? can you eat beef jerky while pregnant? Keep reading to find out if it is ok to eat beef jerky during pregnancy. 

Quick Answer

Beef jerky should not be eaten during pregnancy. If you are craving beef jerky while pregnant, you should try to avoid this salty snack and eat another protein-rich food instead.

It is safe to eat meat during pregnancy but it must be safely prepared and cooked thoroughly to ensure it is bacteria-free.

Due to its high Sodium content, eating beef jerky during pregnancy can lead to dehydration, high blood pressure and may make morning sickness worse. It should also be avoided during pregnancy as the preparation method used will not guarantee the meat is bacteria-free. 

Why Am I Craving Beef Jerky While Pregnant – Is This Normal?

There are no rules when it comes to pregnancy cravings. All food can be – quite literally – on the table.

Some expectant moms just want to eat pickles straight from the jar all day. Others want sweet treats for breakfast, while some just can’t quite shift that urge to eat sticks and sticks of salty beef jerky.

When discussing pregnancy cravings, nothing is ‘normal’ because the food their body wants is unique to each expectant mother. 

Some pregnancy cravings are totally fine to indulge. For example, if you are craving spicy food, a take-out curry isn’t going to hurt.

If you need some chocolate to quiet that sugar craving, go ahead and eat the chocolate. Crunching on ice is a bit odd but it is not going to do you or your baby any harm. 

Can You Eat Cheesecake When Pregnant? Safe During Pregnancy?

However, some of the more extreme pregnancy cravings should definitely be avoided. Some moms-to-be have reported craving things that aren’t food at all during their pregnancy.

You should definitely not indulge any cravings you have for substances like laundry detergent, gasoline, paint, or rubber. Seriously, some moms-to-be love the smell and texture of these things so much during their pregnancy that they want to eat them!

What are you supposed to do if your pregnancy craving is a bit more ambiguous? Some foods are considered unsafe during pregnancy. So what do you do when it is those foods you are craving? 

Beef jerky is a great on-the-go snack. It is a quick and easy source of protein and can really hit the spot when you fancy eating something salty. Is it normal to crave beef jerky during pregnancy though?

Doctors and scientists have not been able to pinpoint exactly why expectant moms crave specific foods during pregnancy.

It is believed cravings may be down to the hormonal changes a woman experiences during pregnancy and may even be the body’s way of trying to replenish certain vitamins and nutrients that the body is running low on. 

There is nothing unusual about craving beef jerky during pregnancy. It may just be your body’s way of telling you it needs more protein or salt. Or you might just be craving beef jerky because you like beef jerky. The pregnancy may have nothing to do with it all. 

To understand if it is safe to eat beef jerky during pregnancy, you will need to know a bit about how beef jerky is made and why the preparation process may mean you should avoid it during pregnancy. 

How Is Beef Jerky Made?

Beef jerky is made from lean cuts of beef. The meat is often marinated in various sauces and spices and then undergoes several preservation methods.

The cuts of beef are dehydrated, cured and smoked then dried. Large amounts of salt are added to preserve the meat for longer. This is why beef jerky has such a  high sodium content.

The salt will help the beef jerky stay edible for longer but it is also added to help prevent the growth of bacteria.

As beef jerky is not thoroughly cooked, women may be unsure if it is safe to eat during pregnancy. Let’s answer that all-important question now, can you eat beef jerky while pregnant?

Can You Eat Beef Jerky During Pregnancy?

If you are pregnant and craving beef jerky, we have some bad news for you. Unfortunately, it is recommended that pregnant women do not eat beef jerky. The odd bite is unlikely to hurt but will you be able to resist devouring the whole stick (or five) once you’ve had a taste? 

It is best not to eat beef jerky at all during your pregnancy. The meat in beef jerky has not been cooked completely and although there is a high salt content, bacteria may still be present.

The salt can also cause your blood pressure to rise to dangerously high levels, especially if you are eating a lot of beef jerky. Consuming a lot of salt can lead to dehydration, something you definitely don’t want to happen when you are growing a baby. 

Whilst it is tasty, beef jerky doesn’t hold much nutritional value. It is a great source of protein and has important vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, and vitamin b12 but you can find all of these in foods that have been cooked thoroughly or can be eaten safely raw. 

If you are craving beef jerky during pregnancy, try eating something else that is high in protein but safely prepared.

If you think it is the salty taste you are after, try eating some salty chips or French fries. They may not be the healthiest of foods but they might just hit the spot, without putting you or your baby at risk. 

Can Beef Jerky Cause Toxoplasmosis? 

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite – toxoplasma gondi – that is found in soil, cat feces, and undercooked meat.

Ever wondered why you can’t change your cat’s kitty litter during pregnancy? Toxoplasmosis is the reason because if you come into contact with your cat’s feces, you can be at risk of becoming infected. 

Toxoplasmosis can be caused by consuming undercooked meat as well. As we have discussed, beef jerky is cured, smoked, and dried but never thoroughly cooked.

The way beef jerky is prepared means there is the potential for bacteria to grow and for a mom-to-be to contract Toxoplasmosis after eating it. 

Babies of mothers who contracted Toxoplasmosis during pregnancy can be born with birth defects. In some cases, toxoplasmosis can cause serious illness and even death.

If you are concerned about Toxoplasmosis, here is a list of common symptoms: 

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes, often in the neck region
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Sore throat
  • Inflammation of the lungs, heart muscles, and eyes

What To Do If Craving Beef Jerky During Pregnancy?

This article may read like the worst news ever if you are pregnant and can’t stop thinking about beef jerky.

While there are no strict rules saying you can’t eat beef jerky while pregnant, there are enough reasons to avoid the salty snack and eat something else instead.

If you just can’t shake those beef jerky cravings, here are some things you can do: 

Talk to your doctor

Don’t phone them up especially, but at your next prenatal appointment, tell your doctor that you have been craving beef jerky.

Your iron levels may be low and this may be your body’s way of trying to get some much-needed protein and iron. Low iron during pregnancy can lead to anemia and you can ask your doctor to do a blood test and check your iron levels.

You may be given iron tablets or other supplements or your doctor can advise you on which iron-rich foods are safe to eat during pregnancy. 

Eat some cooked meat

Beef jerky is a tasty meaty snack and you may just need to substitute the jerky for another meat to satisfy your cravings. Eat a well-done steak or a big juicy burger. There is nothing wrong with eating meat during pregnancy, just be sure it is thoroughly cooked. 

Eat something salty

pregnant woman eating

Too much salt is rarely a good idea but if you can’t stop thinking about the salty goodness of beef jerky. Try eating a different salty snack instead.

Grab a bag of salty potato chips and munch away to your heart’s content. Just remember, too much salt can cause dehydration so if you do have strong alt craving you can’t ignore, remember to keep hydrated too. 

Eat plant-based jerky

It doesn’t exactly taste the same as beef jerky, but a plant-based alternative might be all you need to satisfy your cravings.

Vegetarian jerky won’t give you that iron-rich meat you are craving but it might just taste similar enough to ease your beef jerky cravings until your baby has been born. 


Is beef jerky pasteurized?

Some homemade recipes include pre-cooking meat to kill bacteria but it does make the end product not quite as nice.

Is beef jerky ok for pregnancy?

While it may have been your go-to snack pre-pregnancy, it is not recommended while you are pregnant as it can be unsafe.

Can red meat harm a fetus?

On the whole red meat is not harmful to your baby while you are pregnant as long as you follow a few guidelines. So, you may have loved that medium-rare steak pre-pregnancy but unfortunately, you will have to refrain from that and in fact any blood-red meat.

The Final Thought 

Pregnancy cravings usually appear in the first trimester, become even stronger during the second trimester, and will vanish again as labor approaches.

If you can’t stop thinking about beef jerky, you are sure to feel disappointed after reading this article.

It is advised that women do not eat beef jerky during pregnancy due to its high sodium levels and the fact the meat has been cured and smoked, rather than thoroughly cooked.

There is also a risk of toxoplasmosis when eating beef jerky. This disease can cause birth defects and serious illnesses in certain cases. 

You may be thinking about some other foods that you are craving and whether they are safe to eat while pregnant. These could be things such as cookie dough ice cream or ranch dressing.