Is It Safe for Pregnant Women to Consume Meat?

Eating Meat During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

Medically Reviewed By
Megha Mukhija (Paediatric Nutritionist)
View more Paediatric Nutritionist Our Panel of Experts

When you are pregnant, you crave a variety of foods every day. You have to keep in mind that whatever you eat should be good for your baby as well. This is why most pregnant women are conscious of their eating habits.

If you love to eat meat, then it will be hard to give it up. When you are pregnant, you will wonder if you can eat meat or not. So, read to know if you can eat meat during pregnancy.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Meat?

Yes, pregnant women can eat meat. Moreover, meat is recommended for pregnant women owing to its high protein value. However, there is a catch here. If you consume undercooked or ground meat, it can be harmful to you and the baby.

What Are the Risks of Eating Meat While Pregnant?

There are certain risks involved when you consume excess meat or raw meat during pregnancy. Read on to know how it is harmful to you:

1. Listeriosis

Deli meats are highly susceptible to bacteria that may cause an infection called listeria. Such an issue could further lead to meningitis, gastrointestinal issues or even an infection in your blood. A study shows that a pregnant woman has 17% chances of contracting listeriosis.

2. Toxoplasmosis

Be it lamb, pork, or venison meat; the chances of developing toxoplasmosis increases when the meat is not thoroughly cooked. Avoid eating undercooked meat as toxoplasmosis could even pass on to your baby, and that is not at all a favourable situation.

3. Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant women who devour red meat during pregnancy in more than desirable quantity are likely to develop gestational diabetes. When such a condition arises, your blood sugar levels increase consequently. If you do not pay heed to this health concern, it may result in your baby being overweight or you developing type-2 diabetes.

4. Food Poisoning

There are certain kinds of fish that may lead to food poisoning. Non-smoked fish, shark, and raw shellfish are a complete no-no if you are pregnant.

Food Poisoning

Tips to Eat Meat the Right Way

The following tips could help you opt for healthier eating options.

1. Cleanliness

It is strictly recommended to wash your hands before and after chopping meat, seafood, or poultry. Also, wash the utensils to ensure they are bacteria-free.

2. Isolation

Meat and other food items should be kept at a safe distance. This step helps avoid transmission of any bacteria to your other food items including vegetables, fruits, and salads. Meat should be kept on the lower shelf as drippage from it should not go into cooked foods.

3. Refrigeration


It is recommended to keep your meat frozen until you cook it. No matter what, refrigerate your meat to avoid adverse consequences.

4. Thorough Cooking

As already mentioned, raw meat is strictly not recommended for pregnant women. Therefore, always cook any form of meat.

5. Avoid Marinades

The ingredients that are used to soften the cutting of meat are called marinades. Avoid reusing them as they may be prone to harmful bacteria.

6. Keep Away From Fresh Pre-Stuffed Poultry

Fresh pre-stuffed poultry is generally prone to bacterial development owing to the presence of raw meat juices present in it. Thus, always choose a better option, i.e. frozen pre-stuffed poultry.


1. How to ensure that meat is safely cooked?

Use a food thermometer to measure how well your meat is cooked. If your beef, pork, or lamb is about 145° F, it is more than enough. Also, you could judge by colour whether your meat is thoroughly cooked or not. If your meat does not appear pink in the middle, it means it is cooked well.

2. Is it safe to eat lunch meat or smoked meat or cured when pregnant?

Deli meat or lunch meat should not be served to a pregnant woman until steamed well up to 165° F. Same, goes for smoked meat and meats that you have cured yourself. This is because these meats are more prone to bacteria that may even continue to multiply under refrigeration. Therefore, steaming is the only viable option available.

3. Can pregnant women eat blackened or grilled meat?

Eating grilled or blackened meat on an occasional basis is more than fine. But if you love such meat and eat it frequently, it may lead to severe disease like cancer. This is because frying or grilling can lead to the production of cancer-laden acids called heterocyclic amines.

4. Is it okay to eat meat from livestock that were given antibiotics?

If your meat is thoroughly cooked, there is no harm in eating meat from livestock that was given antibiotics. The only harm would pertain to the fact that such meat may contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Looking at the vital information about how meat could affect your pregnancy, you would be sure by now what kind of meat you should eat.

Also Read: Eating Chicken During Pregnancy

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