Can I eat bacon during pregnancy?

Bacon, and raw meats in general, can contain the bacteria listeria. Listeria can cause an infection called listeriosis, which can cross the placenta, and present serious problems for a baby. Listeria isn’t a problem if the food is fully-cooked, however, so bacon is generally a safe food to eat as long as it’s cooked thoroughly.

While thick, juicy bacon might be your preferred style, it’s a good idea to eat crispy bacon instead. A chewier piece could have some undercooked parts and that can be dangerous.

Handle with care

To avoid contamination, don’t store your raw bacon near other food in the fridge, and keep it wrapped and isolated. The juices from raw bacon can house listeria as well, and that can contaminate other foods. Be sure to wash your hands, utensils, and any surfaces that come in contact with raw meat during its preparation.

Not all bacon is equal

Depending on the brand you buy, or the restaurant you order it from, your bacon may have a lot of additives in it. Smoked or cured bacon is usually preserved with salt (and lots of it), but could also contain artificial preservatives. Look out for flavored bacon like “hickory smoked” or “maple” as it might just contain a bunch of artificial flavoring.

While none of these ingredients are inherently dangerous, sticking to more natural foods may help make for a healthier diet.

Bacon is a fatty, salty food, so try and keep your consumption of it under control. If you can. It’s just…so delicious.

Cooking methods

If you cook bacon in a pan, be sure to cook the fatty ends until crispy. Sometimes the ends can sit on the wall of a pan, which doesn’t get nearly as hot, and that will prevent your bacon from cooking all the way through.

For a really even cook, consider baking your bacon. Preheat your oven to 350-400F (177-204C), place your bacon on a cooking sheet with foil, and bake for around 15-20 minutes. You’re aiming for an internal meat temperature of at least 165F (74C). This will give your bacon a safe, even cook without it getting overly crispy or burnt.

If you are reheating bacon, make sure to get its internal temperature up high again, as bacteria could grow on it while in the refrigerator.

The bottom line

When properly cooked, bacon is safe during pregnancy. However, it’s very, very, VERY important that it is thoroughly cooked.

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