Picture this: you’re on a dream vacation in Italy, surrounded by the most delicious carpaccio, antipasti, cured hams, and cheeses. But then, you find out you’re pregnant.
Suddenly, all those delicacies you’ve been swooning over for months are off-limits. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s important to prioritize your baby’s health.
One question that may be on your mind is whether or not you can indulge in beef tartare while pregnant. Raw meat is generally not recommended during pregnancy due to the risk of bacterial infections, but opinions on the matter vary.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the question of all questions: can you eat beef tartare when pregnant?
Can You Eat Beef Tartare When Pregnant?
During pregnancy, it is not recommended to eat raw or undercooked meat, including beef tartare. This is because raw meat can contain harmful bacteria such as listeria and toxoplasma parasites that can cause infections and have serious consequences for both you and your growing baby.
While some women may argue that they have eaten beef tartare during pregnancy without any issues, it’s important to remember that every pregnancy is different, and the risks associated with consuming raw meat are not worth taking.
Nutritionists advise heating raw meat thoroughly to kill any bacteria that may be present. Freezing the meat can also stop bacterial growth, but it does not necessarily kill all the bacteria. Therefore, it’s best to avoid raw meat altogether during pregnancy.
The Risks Of Eating Raw Meat During Pregnancy
Eating raw or undercooked meat during pregnancy can put you and your baby at risk of contracting harmful bacteria and parasites. The most common bacteria found in raw meat are coliform bacteria, toxoplasma parasites, and salmonella. These can cause serious infections that can have severe consequences for your health and the health of your baby.
Toxoplasmosis is a particular concern for pregnant women who consume raw meat. This infection is caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which is commonly found in raw meat, as well as sheep, lamb, and cat feces. This parasite can cause flu-like symptoms that develop several weeks after infection. While the illness is typically mild for the mother, it can harm the baby and cause serious health problems. In some cases, it can even lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.
Salmonella is another type of bacteria that can be found in raw meat and can cause food poisoning. While it is unlikely to harm your baby directly, it can cause you to experience symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and dehydration.
Listeria is a type of bacteria that can be found in ready-to-eat foods such as deli meats and soft cheeses, but it can also be present in raw meat. Listeria infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection in the newborn.
How Beef Tartare Is Prepared And Served
Beef tartare is a dish made from raw ground beef mixed with various seasonings and accompaniments. To prepare beef tartare, start with a fresh, lean steak and rinse it well before drying it off. Salt the steak liberally on all sides and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two. Rinse the steak off and dry it again, trimming off any large tendons or pieces of fat.
Mince the steak finely to your desired texture and add it to a bowl. Stir vigorously with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, adjusting the seasoning to your liking. Keep the mixture chilled until you’re ready to eat.
To serve, prepare a plate with toast, egg yolk (lightly poached if desired), pickled vegetables, capers, and minced shallot. Press the tartare into a mold on the plate so it holds its shape and make a small well in the center. Slide in the egg yolk and serve immediately.
While beef tartare can be a delicious and popular dish, it is not recommended for pregnant women due to the risk of harmful bacteria and parasites that can be present in raw meat. It’s important to prioritize your health and that of your growing baby by avoiding raw meat during pregnancy.
The Debate Over Eating Beef Tartare During Pregnancy
There is a debate among pregnant women and healthcare professionals regarding the consumption of beef tartare during pregnancy. Some women argue that as long as the meat is cut in the frozen state, it can be eaten raw after freezing. They claim that freezing the meat kills any bacteria present and makes it safe to eat.
However, the views on this issue differ, and there is no clear answer. Some nutritionists advise against eating all raw meat, including beef tartare, during pregnancy, while others suggest that it can be consumed if it’s frozen for a certain amount of time at a specific temperature.
It’s important to note that pregnant women are more susceptible to bacterial infections than the average person, and the consequences can be severe for both the mother and the baby. Therefore, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid raw meat altogether.
Tips For Reducing The Risk Of Foodborne Illness During Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, your immune system changes, making you more susceptible to food poisoning. To reduce the risk of getting foodborne illness during pregnancy, here are some tips to follow:
1. Avoid raw or undercooked meat: As mentioned earlier, it’s best to avoid raw or undercooked meat during pregnancy. Make sure that all meat is cooked thoroughly and there are no pink bits remaining. The juices should also run clear when you stick a fork or skewer into the thickest part of the meat.
2. Store meat carefully: Store raw meat carefully in the fridge, so that the juice can’t drip onto other food. Don’t put cooked food on the same chopping board or surface that has been used for raw meat. Clean surfaces thoroughly first with hot, soapy water or antibacterial spray and a clean, damp cloth.
3. Be careful with grilled or barbecued meat: Take special care with grilled or barbecued meat. If your burgers and sausages appear cooked on the outside, it doesn’t mean they are fully cooked on the inside. Always check by cutting into the thickest part of a piece of meat with a knife or use a meat thermometer.
4. Avoid high-risk foods: Avoid raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, meat and seafood (like carpaccio, tartare, ceviche, raw sushi and sashimi and anything cooked to ‘rare’ or ‘medium rare’). Also avoid pâté, meat spreads, smoked seafood and mayonnaise-based salads made in a store (like egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad or seafood salad). Raw sprouts (like alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean) should also be avoided.
5. Check expiration dates: Any food that by date, smell, or appearance is questionable should be thrown out.
By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of getting foodborne illness during pregnancy and ensure that you and your growing baby stay healthy.
Safe Alternatives To Beef Tartare For Pregnant Women
If you’re craving the flavors of beef tartare during pregnancy, there are safe alternatives that you can enjoy without putting yourself or your baby at risk. One option is to cook the ground beef with the same spices and toppings until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F, and serve it on top of bread or crackers. This alternative is not only safe but also tasty and satisfying.
Another option is to try a vegetarian or vegan version of beef tartare. You can use ingredients such as chopped mushrooms, beets, or tofu to mimic the texture and flavor of raw beef. Mix in seasonings such as capers, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce to add depth and complexity to the dish. These alternatives are not only safe but also packed with nutrients that are beneficial for both you and your baby.
It’s important to remember that during pregnancy, your body requires additional nutrients for optimal growth and development. Therefore, it’s essential to focus on a balanced and healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. By making smart food choices and avoiding risky foods like raw meat, you can ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.