Can Pregnant Women Eat Prosciutto? 3 Major Problems

can pregnant women eat prosciutto

Pregnancy brings about a whole list of things you need to be careful of or avoid altogether. One of the most important things one needs to be mindful of is what one eats. A common question that pregnant women have is, “Can I eat prosciutto or other processed meats?” The simple answer is no, but let’s dive into the details a bit so you understand why it’s a ‘no go’. Before explaining the reason why prosciutto is not a good food to eat while pregnant let’s also take a look at the most common way prosciutto is served, a charcuterie board. To discuss whether or not charcuterie boards are ok (besides just prosciutto) here’s Jacqueline Pinchuk to share her personal knowledge learned after 4 pregnancies!

Now that we have an idea of what we can eat on the charcutrie board, let’s discuss more in-depth why prosciutto is not a good idea while pregnant.

According to the Food Standards Agency, expectant women should exercise caution when consuming cold-cured meats like salami, chorizo, pepperoni, and Parma ham. Since these foods really aren’t cooked but rather cured and fermented, they may contain parasites that cause toxoplasmosis. Recent preliminary research suggests that cured ham, which has been cured for at least twelve months, could be free of toxoplasma gondii, most likely due to the curing and maturing processes, which would destroy the microorganism. However, further research is needed into this intriguing notion, which would broaden the spectrum of processed meat that is safe to be consumed during pregnancy.

If chicken and other meats are hot, you can have them while pregnant. Cooked chicken, as well as other poultry, can be stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of 24 hours. Heating it up until it’s boiling hot through and through should destroy any microbes, thereby rendering it healthy to eat. When you purchase a hot, grilled, or roasted chicken, eat it right away or freeze it and reheat it shortly before serving. Prosciutto is Italian meat that is preserved in salt rather than roasted with heat. It can contain listeria, a kind of bacterium that causes the food-borne disease listeriosis.

Being pregnant means that you need to take care of your nutrition, and for protein, meat is an excellent choice. However, not every meat is good for you. There are many different types of meat that pregnant women should avoid, like prosciutto.

Types Of Prosciutto Pregnant Women Should Know About

A mainstay of Italian cuisine for more than 3,000 years, prosciutto is a naturally salt-cured and air-dried meat. The term itself describes the manner by which it is manufactured and is renowned for its exquisite, salty-sweet flavor. Prosciutto actually means “thoroughly dry” or “devoid of any fluids.” That is not to suggest that every prosciutto is the same. There are two kinds of prosciutto: Crudo, a dry, salt-cured specialty, and Cotto, which really is similar to cooked ham.

Prosciutto Crudo:

Because of curing, prosciutto Crudo seems cooked, yet it is dangerous to eat ”as is.” Cold prosciutto Crudo is typically served thinly sliced with melon or figs, on hamburgers, as part of Caprese salads with basil and mozzarella cheese, or even as a part of a deli platter. Because it does not contain chemical additives or nitrates injected into the flesh, it is regarded to be among the healthiest of hams. Parma ham is yet another term for prosciutto made in the Italian area of Parma. The term “Parma ham” is regulated by the European Union’s Designation of Origin label and is only valid for prosciutto made in that area of Italy.

Prosciutto Cotto:

The other principal variety of prosciutto is prosciutto Cotto, also known as Cotto salami, which is equivalent to cooked ham. To ensure it is safe to consume, Cotto, like other deli meats, must be cooked.

You could also come upon culatello, which is created from a smaller share of the pig’s thigh that has been preserved with wine, giving it a richer crimson hue. Culatello is not commonly seen in the United States; however, it may be discovered on your trips or if you live in Europe.

Why should pregnant women not eat Prosciutto Crudo?

Since cured meats are not cooked, they present a danger of spreading parasites that might cause listeria and toxoplasmosis; thus, pregnant women should not have it.

In one study that looked at the concentration of listeria bacteria within cold cuts, listeria was discovered to be among the most common forms of bacteria, ranging from 17 to 36%. (Source: MDPI).

Listeria can lead to a variety of pregnancy problems, including miscarriage.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease that may be transmitted through cured meats, cat litter, and dirt, and it can have major health repercussions for both you and your developing fetus.

Nevertheless, not all prosciutto is off-limits during pregnancy; there are safe methods for consuming it, such as boiling it first.

What Carcutarie Meat Can I Eat While Pregnant?

Cooked prosciutto, like other processed meats, seems to be suitable for consumption while pregnant if heated to the proper temperature.

Cured pork, like prosciutto, must be heated until it reaches at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius) and is thoroughly cooked.

If you cannot find an efficient food thermometer, heat it until it is literally steaming,a visual indication that it is thoroughly heated.

Prosciutto must not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours after it has been cooked.

Crispy prosciutto is safe since it is normally roasted at extreme heat.

Is it safe to consume cold packaged prosciutto while pregnant?

You may believe that pre-packaged prosciutto would be safe to eat directly from the packaging because it has been packed for freshness; however, this is not the case. The ham is still raw and unsuitable to consume while pregnant.

Whether you acquire your chilled prosciutto out of a deli, a supermarket, or your favorite Italian grocer, it still needs to be well-cooked before eating.

Problems Caused By Prosciutto During Pregnancy

All through pregnancy, it’s preferable to reduce deli meat and raw or undercooked meat, including prosciutto, pork, salami, precooked meat, chicken, as well as other smoked or cured meats. They may carry germs such as listeria or salmonella, as well as toxoplasma parasites.

Salmonella can be found in raw and undercooked chicken, turkey, and other fowl. Salmonellosis is a food poisoning that is caused by this bacteria. Salmonellosis symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, diarrhea, fever, flu-like symptoms, and headache. In rare situations, the condition might lead to miscarriage.

Since cured meats are not cooked, they pose a danger of spreading parasites that can end up causing listeria or toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection that can spread through cured meats, cat litter, and dirt, and it can result in major health repercussions for you as well as your baby. Many pregnancy issues, including miscarriage, can be caused by listeria.

What Is Listeria?

Listeria infection is a contagious bacterial disease that can be fatal in pregnant women, people over 65 years of age, as well as those with compromised immune mechanisms. Eating inadequately prepared cold meats, as well as unpasteurized milk products, is the most prevalent cause of hysteria.

Listeria infection is hardly ever lethal in healthy adults, but it may be fatal to unborn babies, newborns, and individuals with weaker immune systems. The symptoms of listeria infection can be minimized with prompt antibiotic therapy.

Listeria germs are resistant to refrigeration and sometimes even freezing. People who are more vulnerable to severe illnesses should avoid consuming foods that are more likely to have listeria germs.

Symptoms of pregnancy and infants

Listeria infection in pregnancy poses a small risk to the mother. However, the effects on the unborn child might be fatal; they could die during the pregnancy or be born with a life-threatening illness.

The signs and symptoms of an infant listeria infection might be mild; however, they can include the following:

  • Almost no desire to eat
  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing difficulties


Listeria bacteria are present in the soil, water, and excrement of animals. People can become infected by consuming the following foods:

  • Raw vegetables tainted by soil contamination or polluted manure used for fertilizer
  • Meat contamination
  • Unpasteurized milk, as well as products containing unpasteurized milk
  • Processed foods that are infected after processing, like soft cheeses, hot dogs, and cold cuts

An unborn baby can catch a listeria infection from his/her mother.

How Common Is Listeria In Pregnancy?

Each year, around 1,600 incidences of listeriosis are reported in the United States, as reported by the CDC. However, out of nearly 4 million pregnancies each year, only around one in seven occurrences, or roughly 200 cases each year, happen to pregnant women. The chances of contracting listeria are quite low, and the disease can be easily kept under control and treated by using antibiotics.

What tests tell you that you have listeriosis?

After examining your symptoms and doing medical testing, your healthcare professional can identify listeriosis. Screening for the presence of L. monocytogenes may include testing of the following:

  • Blood
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) 
  • Meconium (your baby’s first feces, which is dark green, thicker, and stickier than regular poop)
  • Vomit
  • Meals
  • Animal food
  • Plasma or placenta (if pregnant)

How to lower the chances of developing listeria?

If you suffer from a weakened immune system or become pregnant, you should be cautious about what you eat and drink, as well as how you preserve and cook food.

Check the labels of any dairy foods or beverages to ensure that they have been pasteurized. Juices and dairy products should not be drunk unpasteurized.

Prior to and following cooking, wash your hands as well as your food preparation area.

For cleaning raw fruits or vegetables, choose a scrub brush and clean water, as well as a fruit or vegetable wash.

Heat hot dogs, egg dishes, shellfish, and deli meats until they reach a core temperature of 165°F (74 degrees C). They should be avoided if you can’t do this.

Never consume refrigerated pâté (pureed ham) or meat sauces out of a deli or supermarket meat counter. Meals that do not need to be refrigerated, such as canned and shelf-stable pâté or meat spreads, all seem to be safe to consume. After opening, keep these items in the refrigerator.

Warm your leftovers till they’re steaming. Discard any leftovers that are more than a few days old.

Before putting food away in the refrigerator, cover it all in plastic wrap or foil, preferably putting it in plastic bags or clean, covered containers. Make sure that raw meat does not spill liquids onto other meals.

Wipe up any leaks in the refrigerator as soon as possible, especially any meat fluids.

I Accidently Ate Prosciutto During Pregnancy, What Should I Do?

If you accidentally ate raw prosciutto, there is no need to fear because the danger of contracting an illness is quite low. Food-borne diseases from cured meat are uncommon since the salts and other methods employed prevent bacterial development. Bacteria need water, but salt hinders microbial development by removing the majority of the moisture.

Throughout Italy, wherein cured meats are commonly consumed, the predicted probability of infection among adults is one per 20,000 servings of fresh meat. The majority of listeria infections in cured meat, for instance, happen during the marketing process or when using it upon bringing it home.

If you really have had prosciutto and therefore are concerned, the CDC recommends a “watchful waiting” strategy. Rest and drink plenty of fluids. Typical symptoms include vomiting, stomach pains, headache, diarrhea, and fever. If you do have any doubts, or if you are experiencing more severe symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

You can eat prosciutto safely

Do not forget that eating prosciutto has a very low likelihood of making you unwell. If you do, you will be able to receive treatment swiftly, so there is no need to worry. Understand that cold meat is not healthy to consume while pregnant, but you may enjoy its exquisite salty flavor by completely heating it. Lastly, always check any food products you buy from a local deli or supermarket to ensure they are 100% safe for you and your child.

Stephanie Edenburgh

I'm Steph, a mom to 3 beautiful children and lover all things having to do with my family and being a mom. I've learned a lot raising my own children and working in education and healthcare roles throughout my career. Living in beautiful Southern California I enjoy documenting and writing about all of the hard work us mom's do on a daily basis.

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