Your unborn baby -- and your own body -- become more vulnerable to infection when you're pregnant. While it might seem that you're constantly being told what not to do while pregnant, you should take care to avoid certain food stuffs. Egg salad, while often delicious, can harbor nasty bacteria. This depends on the eggs, the method of cooking and the storage procedure. If you have any doubt, avoid egg salad when pregnant.
When pregnant you're at higher risk of contracting a food-borne illness. Both Foodsafety.gov and the U.S. Department of Agriculture list eggs as potential causes of food poisoning while pregnant. In serious cases, such as salmonellosis, food poisoning can cause miscarriage or developmental problems. If you're pregnant, you need to take special care when eating eggs and egg salad. You don't have to cut them out of your diet altogether, but you must prepare them properly.
Egg salad provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria if not stored correctly. The moistness and high sugar, protein and fat content give bacteria all they need to thrive. If you're going to eat egg salad while pregnant, eat it freshly prepared. Cook the eggs to 145 F, or at least until the white and yolk are firm, not runny, experts from Colorado State University Extension instruct.
One particular form of food poisoning relatively common in pregnant women is listeriosis. A bacteria called Listeria triggers the condition, which can lead to serious illness and even miscarriage, the USDA warns. The agency also points out that egg salad can contain Listeria -- particularly egg salad prepared in stores and delis. These salads often sit in large tubs, sometimes open to the air. This can increase the chances of bacterial growth.
In a 2010 report in the journal "Canadian Family Physicians," researchers noted that incidences of food poisoning associated with eggs had decreased in recent years. However, they also point out that between 1 in 10,000 and 30,000 eggs may carry the bacteria Salmonella. This bacteria can result in salmonellosis -- a bacterial infection that could harm a growing fetus. Egg salad made with pasteurized egg, such as tinned egg salad from a store, doesn't contain Salmonella, because pasteurization kills the bacteria.
Is This an Emergency?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; Food Safety and Inspection Service: Protect Your Baby and Yourself From Listeriosis; Jan. 12, 2011
- "Canadian Family Physicians"; Food-borne Illnesses During Pregnancy; Carolyn Tam, et al.; April 2010
- Foodsafety.gov: Food Safety for Pregnant Women
- Colorado State University Extension; Food Safety During Pregnancy; J. Dean and P. Kendall; December 2006