Bacon is a beloved food by many, and its deliciousness is often craved by pregnant women. But as with many foods during pregnancy, there are concerns about safety.
While cooked bacon is generally safe for pregnant women to eat, what about uncured bacon?
In this article, we’ll explore the safety of uncured bacon during pregnancy and provide some helpful tips for enjoying this tasty treat while keeping you and your baby healthy.
So, let’s dive in and find out if you can indulge in some uncured bacon during your pregnancy!
Can You Eat Uncured Bacon While Pregnant?
Uncured bacon is a type of bacon that does not contain nitrates as preservatives. Instead, it is cured with natural sources of nitrates such as celery, parsley, and beetroot extracts for flavoring. While added nitrites are not good for health, natural sources of nitrates do not put you at risk.
So, the short answer is yes – you can eat uncured bacon during pregnancy. However, it should be cooked thoroughly to prevent the risk of bacterial food-borne illnesses such as listeriosis.
It’s important to note that uncured bacon may still contain nitrites from natural sources, so it should be stored in the refrigerator with a temperature below 4°C or 40°F. Additionally, pregnant women should limit their intake of uncured bacon and other processed meats to reduce their risk of cancer.
What Is Uncured Bacon?
Uncured bacon is a type of bacon that is cured without the use of synthetic nitrates or nitrites. Instead, it is cured with natural sources of nitrates such as celery, parsley, and beetroot extracts for flavoring. During the curing process, the pork belly is injected with a brine solution that includes sea salt, sugar, and natural curing agents like cultured celery powder. The pork belly then sits in the solution for 12 to 24 hours, absorbing the flavors and developing bacterial resistance.
Unlike cured bacon, which contains added sodium nitrite to prevent the growth of bacteria and give it a pink color, uncured bacon does not contain added nitrates. However, it’s important to note that uncured bacon may still contain nitrites from natural sources like celery salt.
Uncured bacon is usually labeled as such in grocery stores and may have an additional label of “sodium nitrate-free.” It’s important to look for this label as products that contain sodium nitrate can potentially put your health at risk.
Is Uncured Bacon Safe During Pregnancy?
As mentioned earlier, uncured bacon is safe for pregnant women to eat as long as it is fully cooked or heated until hot. However, it’s important to note that uncured bacon may still contain nitrates from natural sources, so it should be consumed in moderation.
While natural sources of nitrates do not put you at risk, excessive consumption of uncured bacon can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. Therefore, it’s recommended that pregnant women limit their intake of uncured bacon and other processed meats to reduce their risk of developing these conditions.
Additionally, pregnant women should take extra precautions when handling and cooking uncured bacon to prevent the risk of bacterial food-borne illnesses such as listeriosis. It’s important to always wash your hands and any kitchen utensils that come into contact with the raw bacon, and to cook it thoroughly until it reaches an internal temperature of 75°C or 165°F.
Potential Risks Of Eating Uncured Bacon While Pregnant
While uncured bacon may be a healthier option compared to cured bacon, there are still potential risks associated with consuming it during pregnancy. Here are some of the risks to be aware of:
1. Listeriosis: Uncured bacon can still contain harmful bacteria such as listeria which can cause listeriosis. Listeriosis can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth. In babies, it can cause infections and even lifelong disabilities such as paralysis, intellectual disability, or seizures.
2. Saturated Fat: Uncured bacon is still high in saturated fat which can increase cholesterol levels and lead to heart problems. Pregnant women should limit their intake of saturated fats to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
3. Nitrites: While uncured bacon is free from added nitrites, it may still contain natural sources of nitrates which can be harmful to the mother and baby. Nitrites are carcinogenic preservatives used for curing the bacon.
4. Sodium: Like cured bacon, uncured bacon is still high in sodium which can lead to high blood pressure and other health issues if consumed in excess.
To minimize these risks, pregnant women should limit their intake of uncured bacon and other processed meats. It’s important to cook the bacon thoroughly before consumption to prevent any potential bacterial contamination. Pregnant women should also make sure to store uncured bacon properly in the refrigerator and avoid consuming it past its expiration date.
How To Safely Enjoy Uncured Bacon During Pregnancy
If you’re a bacon lover and want to enjoy uncured bacon during pregnancy, here are some tips to ensure you do it safely:
1. Buy from a reputable source: Make sure to purchase uncured bacon from a trusted source. Check the packaging to ensure that it has been properly stored and handled.
2. Cook it thoroughly: It’s crucial to cook uncured bacon until it’s steaming hot to kill any bacteria that may be present. Avoid eating undercooked or raw bacon, as this can increase the risk of foodborne illnesses.
3. Store it properly: Keep uncured bacon in the refrigerator at a temperature below 4°C or 40°F. If you’re not planning on cooking it immediately, freeze it instead.
4. Limit your intake: While uncured bacon is a safer option than cured bacon, it’s still a processed meat and should be consumed in moderation. Too much consumption of processed meats during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
5. Consider alternatives: If you’re concerned about the potential risks of eating uncured bacon during pregnancy, there are plenty of alternatives available. Turkey bacon, soy-based bacon, and mushroom bacon are all healthy options that you can try.
Other Safe Bacon Alternatives For Pregnant Women
If you’re pregnant and looking for safe bacon alternatives, there are several options available that are both healthy and delicious. Here are some of the best alternatives to traditional bacon that you can try during pregnancy:
1. Turkey Bacon: Turkey bacon is a leaner alternative to pork bacon and contains less fat and calories. It is a great option for pregnant women who want to enjoy the taste of bacon without the added health risks.
2. Beef Bacon: Beef bacon is another alternative to pork bacon that is low in fat and high in protein. It is made from beef brisket or flank steak and has a similar taste and texture to traditional bacon.
3. Veggie Bacon: Veggie bacon is a plant-based alternative to traditional bacon that is made from soy, tempeh, or other plant-based ingredients. It is a great option for vegetarians or pregnant women who want to avoid meat.
4. Mushroom Bacon: Mushroom bacon is a healthy and delicious alternative to traditional bacon that is made from sliced mushrooms that are seasoned and cooked until crispy. It has a similar texture and flavor to bacon but is much lower in fat and calories.
It’s important to note that while these bacon alternatives are generally safe for pregnant women, it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider before adding them to your diet. Additionally, like with any food, moderation is key. Too much of any type of bacon can be detrimental to your health, so it’s important to enjoy these alternatives in moderation.