Between general brain fog and likely constant worry about what you are putting into your body, even the most simple food items can seem dangerous.
Sometimes you do just want satisfying and nostalgic foods like beef jerky, but when you realize that beef jerky can be considered somewhat raw meat, you might worry about whether eating beef jerky is actually safe.
We’re here to help so that you can satisfy your cravings in peace, knowing you are not harming you or your baby.
If you have a jerky craving and want to eat this salty snack, we have listed any potential issues these dried meats may pose to a healthy pregnancy.
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What Is Beef Jerky?
Put simply, beef jerky is cuts of lean beef that have been dried and salted and usually eaten cold and are a delicious snack enjoyed all over the Americas and Europe.
This salty craving can be ready to eat when it is dried, and is a food tradition that originated in the Andes mountains, the Quechua word ‘ch’akri’ means ‘dried, salted meat’ and is where we get the modern word ‘jerky’ from.
By drying the meat in the sun, or with a dehydration process in the modern world, we get these salty snacks that can be chewy and meaty, and are really satisfying. A beef jerky craving can be hard to satisfy.
Modern jerky is often marinated before it is dried, which adds a lot of flavor. Modern jerky also has sweeteners like sugar added as well.
Many modern store bought beef jerky products may be formed of processed meats that are also chopped up and formed into a jerky shape, rather than being the single cut of red meat they are traditionally.
Jerky can theoretically be made from any meat apart from chicken, they are often made with red meat.
A product like Slim Jims should be avoided as they contain lots of processed meat.
Is Beef Jerky Safe For Pregnant Women?
Pregnancy cravings are hard to satisfy, but salty cravings can also feel dangerous. You are probably aware of the risk of foodborne illnesses as caused by these types of uncooked meat.
While anyone can get sick from raw or undercooked meat, pregnant women are at a higher risk due to a weak immune system.
Beef jerky is covered in salt to destroy bacteria, and by being dried or dehydrated the beef jerky isn’t actually raw or undercooked as we may think it is.
This said as beef jerky hasn’t been subjected to high temperatures there is an increased risk of food poisoning especially if a pregnant woman is going to consume beef jerky.
In theory the risk of food poisoning is low when eating preserved meats like beef jerky, but even if there is a hint of this kind of bacterial infection it can be bad for a pregnant woman with a weakened immune system to eat jerky.
It’s just not worth the risk, and your doctor will likely tell you the same thing.
Importantly, foodborne illness can also be passed through other foods, and attack a pregnant woman’s immune system.
Food such as raw eggs, blue cheese, unpasteurized milk, and rare steak can all contain harmful bacteria for pregnant women.
Similarly toxoplasmosis is another common infection in pregnant women, and is only another reason why you should stay clear of cat feces.
If you crave beef jerky you might resolve to create homemade jerky, we still encourage you to avoid eating beef jerky even when homemade.
Drying meat at home could contain more harmful bacteria than commercial beef jerky without a food thermometer to ensure food safety.
Is Jerky Healthy To Eat While Pregnant?
Meat cooked in this way is not inherently bad in a traditional sense. It’s a good way to preserve meat and keep it safe in a traditional sense.
But without a proper food thermometer to measure the risk of foodborne illness harmful bacteria can infect the dried meat.
In other ways, modern jerky can contain processed meats and other processed foods that aren’t great. Preserved meat like this can contribute to high salt intake and are not conducive to a balanced diet or food safety.
While this can contain healthy fats and satisfy salty cravings, a healthcare provider will advise that a high salt intake can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure spikes are not healthy for you or your unborn baby.
Too much salt can also lead to muscle aches, bloating, and other discomfort that we guarantee is much worse than craving beef jerky.
Alternatives To Beef Jerky
There are some worthwhile alternatives to beef jerky that are food safe, as well as contain less salt and other processed food. Eating jerky while pregnant isn’t a good idea, so check out these alternatives.
Deli meats, or lunch meat, or cold cuts, can be a welcome alternative. These can be microwaved quickly to kill any bacteria and provide that meaty satisfaction.
Plus you can have them in a sandwich. You can be sure they are food safe as well. Paired with healthy snacks, this can be part of a balanced diet, perhaps swapping bloating bread for whole wheat crackers.
Avoiding undercooked meats is best though.
Deli meat, or even hot dogs, is always a good place to go as it can be considered food safe and often is cooked meat and can be enjoyed with soft cheeses.
If you eat meat this isn’t a problem, we just want to ensure that everything going into your body is pasteurized and healthy.
Is it Also Important to Avoid Banana During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women are often advised to avoid banana consumption during pregnancy due to their high sugar content. Although bananas offer essential nutrients like potassium and vitamin C, excessive intake may lead to increased blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid banana consumption during pregnancy or consume in moderation.
As you can see, beef jerky is not a cooked meat, nor is it a raw meat. The issue here is that by being cooked in low temperatures beef jerky has a higher chance of foodborne illness.
Moreover, if you are pregnant, beef jerky can pose a danger to your unborn baby through foodborne illness as well as increased blood pressure.
Take it from us, the muscle aches from the salt are not worth the salty cravings.