You’ve added lots of nutritious whole foods to your daily pregnancy diet, and you’ve cut out simple carbs and sugary foods. But you’re still craving some deli and ground meats, like certain varieties of chorizo.
Eating some kinds of cured chorizo may be more likely to cause food poisoning or make you sick.
If you enjoy cured meats, you might not have known that they’re raw or undercooked. Cured meats — like some kinds of chorizo, pepperoni, salami, and prosciutto — are processed in raw or only slightly cooked form.
Here’s more on eating chorizo during pregnancy and when you should avoid it.
If you enjoy chorizo, you know it’s a spicy, red-colored pork sausage that can be flavored in a variety of ways. Depending on where it’s from, chorizo can be made with different spices and processes. It might be fresh, fermented, cured, smoked, or cooked.
Mexican chorizo is a fresh sausage that’s cooked before eating. This kind of chorizo is fine to eat when you’re pregnant, as long as it’s properly cooked. Look for fresh chorizo that isn’t made with added preservatives or dyes.
You might find this fresh or frozen. Check with your local deli or butcher to make sure the chorizo is fresh. Packaged fresh chorizo should have an early expiration date because it’s not cured or preserved like other sausages.
Spanish chorizo is cured and fermented when raw. This means that technically, it’s eaten as raw and undercooked meat. It’s best to avoid this kind of chorizo during pregnancy.
Raw or lightly cooked meat has a higher risk of being contaminated with bacteria and other germs that can make you sick. If you’re eating out, it’s best to avoid any kind of chorizo while you’re pregnant because you can’t be sure of how well it’s cooked.
Toxoplasmosis is one kind of infection that can happen from eating raw or undercooked meats like Spanish chorizo. It can affect you and also be very serious for your growing baby during pregnancy.
In rare cases, a severe toxoplasmosis infection can lead to miscarriage or birth abnormalities. This germ is also sometimes found in cat litter, uncooked shellfish, and raw eggs.
Other kinds of germs might also get into raw or undercooked meats and lead to an upset stomach or food poisoning. These include:
Cured or processed chorizo also contains other ingredients that you may want to be cautious about during pregnancy, like:
- high salt
- nitrates and nitrites (preservatives)
- natural sausage casings (made from the intestines)
Preservatives keep food from spoiling, but you may want to avoid eating too much of these chemicals, especially when you’re pregnant. Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which is very important to watch during pregnancy.
If you’re whipping up a fresh chorizo dinner at home, it’s important to handle and prepare raw chorizo safely, as with any kind of raw meat.
Cut fresh chorizo on a plastic or glass cutting board. Wear gloves or wash your hands carefully with soap before and after handling the meat. Freeze fresh chorizo if you don’t plan on eating it promptly to safely store it. Thaw frozen chorizo in the fridge.
Carefully cooking fresh chorizo and other raw meat is the best way to make sure it won’t have any harmful germs. Make sure it’s well done and not rare or undercooked — ground meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160°F (71°C).
Use a food thermometer to make sure the chorizo if properly cooked. Don’t rely on the color of the meat, because the added spices might make it look more cooked than it is.
The high cooking temperature is important to kill harmful germs that cause toxoplasmosis and other infections. You can cook, grill, or bake chorizo as long as it reaches the proper internal temperature. Resting chorizo and other meats after cooking for at least 3 minutes helps to make sure it’s properly cooked throughout.
Chorizo is a high calorie food with lots of protein. A
However, it’s not the healthiest option during pregnancy — and when you’re not pregnant, for that matter — because of its high salt and preservative content.
Add cooked chorizo as a side or topping to a salad, low carb pizza, or another healthy dish instead of eating lots of it as your main meal. This way you get the flavor of chorizo while limiting its unhealthy ingredients.
You may have food poisoning symptoms just for an hour or as long as almost a month after eating unsafe foods like uncooked chorizo. Signs and symptoms include:
- stomach cramps
- loss of appetite
- diarrhea or watery bowel movements
- headache pain
- mild fever
- fatigue or weakness
Call your doctor if you have symptoms that don’t get better within a few hours. You may need treatment to help protect yourself and your little one. Get urgent medical attention if you have any signs of a serious infection, like:
- fever higher than 101.5°F
- diarrhea for longer than 3 days
- blood in your urine or stools
- fainting or losing consciousness
Chorizo is a flavored sausage that’s made with a variety of ingredients. It’s also made in different ways, and some of these are safer than others.
Limit how much chorizo and other preserved or processed sandwich meat you eat because of the high salt and chemicals they might have. It’s safest to avoid deli meats altogether while pregnant.
Look for fresh, low sodium chorizo that doesn’t have added preservatives, and make sure it’s cooked thoroughly. Let your doctor know if you have any symptoms of food poisoning after eating chorizo or anything else since this can have more serious effects if you’re pregnant.