Few life-changing events occur in one’s time, and pregnancy is one of them.
The thought of a precious innocent life growing within your womb is truly special. But with such blessings come bigger responsibilities.
As the focus shifts between caring for you and your growing child, essential nutrient-giving foods — vegetables, fruits, proteins, etc — are recommended by healthcare professionals.
Although hot dogs, also known as wieners, bockwurst, or frankfurters, have been linked to listeriosis in pregnant women, you can enjoy your meal without a dose of worry.
As an expecting mom, you should ensure you cook the hot dog at a high temperature and enjoy it while it’s still steaming hot.
Being one of the most popular fast foods in the country, these yummy snacks are served along with ice creams at family gatherings, baseball games, and picnics.
…But what is it about hot dogs during pregnancy? Why are they frowned at sometimes?
While there are different opinions on whether hot dogs are safe for pregnant women, you don’t have to give up the steaming hot dogs for your baby.
Instead, eating and making them properly — cooking at the right temperature to kill bacteria and prevent food poisoning — is all you need to enjoy this yummy snack!
How Can I Prepare Hot Dogs that are Safe to Eat?
Hot dogs aren’t bad for pregnant women, as some misconceptions would have you believe.
However, as expected, doctors are usually wary of the type of foods expecting moms consume.
Because while food boosts your immune system during pregnancy, it can also be a medium for bacteria to gain entry into your body.
This could be through contamination or cross contamination through packaging or in storage.
Your hot dogs must be heated to a temperature of at least 160F before they’re safe to eat to ensure your child is not at risk of bacteria such as listeria, E. coli, or salmonella.
To be safe, use a thermometer to check the temperature. This reduces the risk of illness or food poisoning during pregnancy.
You should also pay extra attention to frozen hot dogs, especially on the grill or barbeque. Although they may look cooked on the outside, they may be undercooked on the inside.
Use a meat thermometer to confirm the temperature to be 100% sure it is safe for you and your unborn baby.
This same thermometer can be used for processed meat such as salami, deli meats, and cold cuts, which are also at risk of being contaminated.
Here’s how to make safe hot dogs:
- Use an Oven — You can bake your hot dogs for ten minutes at over 160 degree F. This temperature kills any bacteria in the meat. You should turn the wieners frequently until they’re heated all round.
- Boil — Boil for about 2-3 minutes. The hot dogs should be steaming-hot when you take them out. No chance of a bacterial illness happening if you do this properly.
- Use a Microwave — You could wrap the wiener in a paper or towel and heat for about a minute or two. Ensure the hot dogs are hot using a thermometer.
- Use a Grill — One of the most common ways of cooking meat, chicken, and fish. This method removes bacteria from your hot dog by exposure to high temperatures. If you’re ever at a barbeque, ensure you eat a hot dog fresh off the grill.
The Ingredients Contained In A Hot Dog
Hot dogs are made from chicken, beef, turkey extracts or a combination of all three.
Besides these, other ingredients include:
- Celery powder
- Beef stock
- Garlic puree
- Modified food starch
- Natural sheep casing
- Sodium nitrite
However, certain ingredients in a hot dog could have an adverse effect on your pregnancy. For example, dextrose sugar in hot dogs helps to enhance flavour and browning when cooking, but eating too much could be harmful to your pregnancy.
Sodium Nitrite, another ingredient used to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in hot dogs, is known to be harmful in pregnancy.
You should also avoid using sweeteners when you make hot dogs as the chemicals can be detrimental to the unborn baby.
Why Are Hot Dogs Considered Unsafe?
Listeria can be found in undercooked weiners, and when eaten by pregnant women, can cause stillbirth and miscarriages.
Therefore, in the late 90’s, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that pregnant women take caution when eating hot dogs.
This recommendation was based on an outbreak of listeria infection (listeriosis) linked to deli meats and processed foods.
Listeriosis, which is a consequence of listeria infection (a severe but rare bacterial illness), is likely a medical condition which occurs due to the consumption of contaminated foods.
Since hot dogs are sometimes purchased as ready to eat foods, the chances of eating one contaminated with listeria monocytogenes is a lot higher.
As a result, a pregnant woman is likely to be affected by the bacteria.
To prevent this, ensure you cook your hot dog well.
Besides these risks, eating hot dogs could also lead to an unhealthy weight gain during pregnancy.
Are Nitrites and Nitrates Unsafe?
Canned foods sold at health food stores or malls contain food preservatives in the form of sodium nitrites or nitrates.
These preservatives could harm your baby since they are used to preserve meats. It could also lead to an increased risk of birth defects such as spina bifida and cleft palate.
For this reason, there is a general recommendation that pregnant women should avoid hot dogs all together.
However, you have nothing to worry about if you cook at the right temperature, confirm with a thermometer for safety and moderately eat during pregnancy.
You could also visit your healthcare professional to know more about having a balanced diet during pregnancy.
What Quantity of Hot Dog is Ideal For a Pregnant Woman?
A single hot dog contains about 200 calories of energy, 12 grams of fat, at least 7 grams of proteins, about 12 grams of fat, and at least 500mg of sodium.
So, there should be a limit to the amount you eat during pregnancy. Consuming too much is unhealthy for you.
A few hot dogs in a week should be harmless to you and your child.
As with other dishes, practice moderation and you’ll be just fine.
What Are the Associated Risks and Benefits of Eating Hot Dogs?
While hot dogs are eaten regularly by millions of people, there are certain benefits and risks to your health. As it concerns hot dogs, here are some:
- Improves your gut health — Sauerkraut, when added to hot dogs, is good for your gut. This fermented food contains probiotics and that aid gut absorption of nutrients.
- Increases your risk of cancer — The use of nitrites and nitrates to prolong the shelf-life and reduce bacterial activities may increase the likelihood of cancer. To be safe, buy foods that are nitrate-free and check for other compounds that are unhealthy.
- Increases your risk of heart disease — The nutritional composition of processed meat has been linked to heart diseases. Excessive fat in meat does damage to the heart as well as the calories, fat, and saturated fat contained in a hot dog.
There you have it. You now know everything about how to make hot dogs that are both enjoyable and safe for you and your unborn child.
We do hope you keep enjoying your hot dogs and remember to be moderate in consumption for your health and your baby’s.
Have a safe pregnancy.