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Pregnant, can I eat cold cuts?

Pregnancy is a period that imposes certain restrictions, including dietary restrictions, to preserve the health of babies and mothers. Giving up sausage during these 9 months is a small sacrifice necessary, we will explain why.

Pâté, raw ham, sausage, chorizo ​​… It's hard not to crack in front of a good platter of cold meats all as appetizing as each other. Especially since gourmet cravings are more difficult to manage during pregnancy. Ladies, know that it is bad for good if you are not immune to toxoplasmosis.

Delicatessen meats, a potential source of the bacteria Toxoplasma gondii

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. This infection is transmitted by animals, especially cats. Contamination can also occur through foods such as poorly washed vegetables and undercooked meat. You should know that this parasite can be present in the soil, water and vegetables but also in the muscles of herbivorous animals that we are used to consuming in meat products (meats and cold meats).

Benign for healthy people, toxoplasmosis is a disease that even goes unnoticed most of the time. The main symptoms are mild fever, rash, glands in the neck, tiredness and headache. However, it can be dangerous in pregnant women, the fetus and immunocompromised people. Toxoplasmosis during pregnancy puts the fetus at risk of serious eye and neurological damage.

No to deli meats if you have never had toxoplasmosis!

The ousting of cold meats during pregnancy is only valid for pregnant women who have never contracted toxoplasmosis.

How do you know if you've already had it or not? From the start of pregnancy, the health professional who monitors the pregnant woman prescribes a blood test to see, among other things, whether the future mother is immunized against toxoplasmosis or not.

  • If she is immune, she can eat charcuterie without problem.
  • If it is not, this means that she has never had the disease and that she is therefore not protected by antibodies (the blood test must then be renewed every month until delivery). In this case, dietary restrictions are necessary to preserve the health of the baby:
    • take care of the cooking of the meat, it must be done to the heart (to know if it is well cooked, there should not be any pink juice when cut);
    • avoid the consumption of raw, marinated, smoked, salted or grilled meat. Delicatessen meats from raw or undercooked meat such as sausage, chorizo, raw ham are part of it. You can fall back on white ham or mortadella for example.
    • rinse raw vegetables, aromatic plants and fruits well with clear water to remove all traces of soil;
    • preferably drink bottled water;
    • avoid consuming raw seafood or molluscs;
    • wear gloves for gardening or before contact with the ground and always wash your hands afterwards;
    • if you have a cat, let someone else take care of cleaning their litter box.

Other foods not recommended during pregnancy

Besides toxoplasmosis, the second enemy of pregnant women is listeriosis, a disease caused by bacteria Listeria monocytogenes and which is mainly transmitted through food. Listeriosis during pregnancy can go unnoticed or reduce to symptoms characteristic of influenza-like illness. But for the unborn child, the risks are significant: premature birth, death in utero, neurological disorders, septicemic forms with respiratory distress in the days following birth.

Some precautions are therefore necessary to protect baby:

  • avoid dairy products based on raw milk, soft cheeses with a bloomy or washed rind.
  • avoid raw, marinated and smoked meats, fish and shellfish. We forget the steak tartare, sushi, sashimi, tarama, smoked salmon, scallop carpaccio…
  • avoid deli meats in jelly, foie gras, pâté and rillettes.

Eggs are not prohibited during pregnancy, but it is better to eat them hard rather than undercooked, boiled or raw because they may contain a bacterium, salmonella. It is responsible for salmonellosis, an infection without risk for the baby but whose symptoms are very inconvenient (stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, high fever, etc.). As a reminder, pregnant women have a more fragile immune system and are therefore more vulnerable to food poisoning.

If you're pregnant and don't know which foods to avoid, or don't have inspiration to cook new dishes for yourself, pick up some recipe ideas from this comprehensive guide: Pregnancy, knowing what to eat. 21 days of menus, Modus Vivendi editions.

Foods allowed and prohibited during pregnancy

How to protect yourself from toxoplasmosis and listeriosis?

Apart from dietary restrictions, these two diseases can be avoided by respecting certain simple hygiene rules when preparing and storing your food. Cooking raw food of animal origin well (at a temperature above 70 ° C) is the first reflex to adopt. Before going to the table or preparing food, it is essential to wash your hands (gesture to repeat after handling food). Kitchen utensils and surfaces that have been in contact with raw food should always be washed after use and those used to cook raw food should not be the same as that used for cooked products. If you have the choice, prefer prepackaged foods to products sold by the cup. Regarding cheeses, systematically remove the rind before eating them as they are nests for bacteria.

As for food storage, respect the expiration dates and the storage instructions indicated on each product. To avoid cross-contamination in the fridge, separate cooked food (leftover dishes for example) from food to be eaten as it is. Products that have already started must be protected with plastic film or kept in an airtight container (long live glass boxes!). Finally, remember to regularly clean your refrigerator with lightly bleached water.

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Video by Romane Lepetit