The American Pregnancy Association advises women to avoid eating certain products while they're pregnant to lower the risk of food-borne illnesses or contamination that may harm the baby. Some, but not all, types of corned beef are on this list. If you're pregnant, consult your doctor before eating any food that you're concerned may increase your risk of medical complications.
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Corned Beef at the Deli Counter
Pregnant women are advised not to eat cold corned beef sold at deli counters or in commercial lunch meat packages. This includes avoiding cold corned beef sandwiches sold at restaurants, lunch counters or in vending machines. All cold deli meats, including corned beef, have the risk of being contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria before or during packaging or after being in a display case for a long period of time. If you do choose to eat deli corned beef, it must be heated until steaming -- approximately 165 degrees Fahrenheit -- to kill the bacteria.
Freshly Cooked Corned Beef
Because heat kills the Listeria bacteria, it is fine for pregnant women to eat fresh corned beef that has been thoroughly roasted, braised, grilled or prepared in a slow cooker. The beef should be cooked until it has reached an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Be careful not to allow the raw juices to contaminate clean utensils or plates, and refrigerate leftovers promptly for up to three to four days. Leftovers may also be frozen for two to six months. Before eating corned beef leftovers, reheat them to 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Corned Beef Hash
Commercially canned corned beef hash, and all other canned meat spreads containing corned meats, are safe to eat during pregnancy, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Just be sure to cook the hash until completely heated, to refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container -- not in the can -- and to reheat any leftovers thoroughly before eating. Homemade corned beef hash made with ingredients like cooked corned beef, potatoes, onions and peppers is also safe for pregnant women to eat, as long as the beef is cooked medium-well or well-done.
Even if you're heating your deli-counter corned beef to the recommended temperature or cooking it thoroughly on your own, corned beef isn't the best choice for you while you're pregnant. Cooked corned beef is fatty, with over 16 grams of total fat in each 3-ounce serving. It also contains 827 milligrams of sodium per serving, an amount that's nearly 36 percent of the recommended daily limit for healthy adults, including pregnant women. Too much fat and sodium in your diet can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure. Instead of corned beef, stick to skinless poultry, low-mercury seafood, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and lean cuts of meat.
- American Pregnancy Association: Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
- American Pregnancy Association: Listeria and Pregnancy
- Slate: Please Can I Have a Turkey Sandwich and Sleep on My Back While Pregnant?
- Foodsafety.gov: Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer
- Foodsafety.gov: Checklist of Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Beef, Cured, Corned Beef, Brisket, Cooked
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Where's the Sodium?