Can You Eat Beef Jerky While Pregnant? What You Need to Know

Consuming beef jerky while pregnant can be perfectly safe when the jerky is prepared in a USDA inspected facility, fully cooked, and packaged to be shelf stable. 

We understand pregnancy cravings can be difficult to keep at bay and downright powerful to control and eliminating some of your favorite foods can also be a challenge. The good news is that beef jerky doesn't have to be one of them.

In fact, you can continue eating your favorite jerky snacks as long as it's safely prepared. 

Continue reading to learn more about if beef jerky is safe to consume while pregnant and as always we recommend consulting your doctor for anything relating to your healthy and pregnancy. 

What kind of beef jerky is safe? 

Not all beef jerky is created equal. In fact, it's important to know the differences between commercially prepared jerky and homemade jerky especially when you're pregnant and craving this popular food snack. 

When beef jerky is properly prepared in a USDA facility under strict regulations (like ours), this jerky is completely safe to consume while pregnant. Why? The jerky is fully cooked at a temperature that kills harmful bacteria and is then packaged to be shelf stable. 

Other jerky varieties that are sold in the refrigeration section of a grocery store or jerky made at home are both examples of beef jerky you shouldn't consume while pregnant. The risk of bad bacteria growing on them based on how they are prepared is cause for them to fall under the temperature danger zone. This zone is essentially when bacteria are more likely to thrive. Therefore, it's safe to avoid those kinds. 

What are the risks of homemade jerky? 

Beef jerky is a satisfying and convenient snack you can find almost anywhere so ideally you'd think it's a great snack when those angry pregnancy cravings hit, however, it can pose some risks.

Most of these risks come from jerky that is made at home and that's not properly cooked. 

Foodborn Illness 

Beef jerky that is made at home and not under USDA regulation risks not being fully cooked. Even though beef jerky isn't raw, it's also not cooked the same as a traditional piece of meat. For example, when you cook meat at a higher temperature, it helps to kill bacteria that can make you sick. Since beef jerky is dried and cooked at a lower temperature, it may not kill all of the bacteria.

For people making jerky at home they may not know the proper temperatures and protocols of how to mitigate this and therefore why experts advise against eating beef jerky while pregnant. Foodborne illness (also known as food poisoning) can occur. 

Now anyone can get sick with food poisoning, however, the chances of getting sick are higher when pregnant because your immune system is compromised. What's even worse is not only can you get sick, but your baby can be affected by it as well. 

General Risks of Eating Beef Jerky

Spike in Blood Pressure and Salt 

While we've deduced that eating commercially processed jerky is generally safe to consume while pregnant, there are some other risks that play a factor. 

One of the risks of consuming lots of beef jerky is that it can spike your blood pressure because it's high in salt. This isn't healthy for both you and your baby. Additionally, too much salt can increase discomfort because of the additional swelling. 

So while eating shelf stable jerky is safe, it's also important to eat it in moderation as a treat and not as an everyday snack. 

Risk of Nitrates/Nitrites 

In addition to jerky being high in sodium, it also often contains nitrates or nitrites, which is also a no no while pregnant. Medical research shows these added chemicals are linked to higher risks of delivery your baby too early and therefore should be avoided. 

The good thing is we offer a healthy jerky line that is all-natural and doesn't contain any nitrates and nitrites. You can shop our full keto friendly beef jerky collection on People's Choice Beef Jerky. 

Foods that Are Safe While Pregnant

If you're still wanting meat, and are still wary to consume dried meat go straight for the steak! It's important to make sure it's cooked to well done. That means making sure the temperature hits at least 165 degrees. 

You can also go the route of plant-based foods that are made from a variety of vegetables. While it doesn't taste exactly like meat, it can still be delicious and satisfying. 

Other Foods to Avoid While Pregnant 

Besides beef jerky, there are other foods to avoid while pregnant. At it's core, it's important to avoid foods that aren't 100% cooked through. These foods include: 

  • Sushi
  • Sashimi 
  • Raw Oysters 
  • Raw Scallops 
  • Raw Eggs
  • Cookie Dough 
  • Deli Meats
  • Unpasteurized Milk 

Bottom Line

Consuming beef jerky that is fully cooked and prepared in a USDA inspected facility while pregnant is completely safe. Your risks of foodborne illnesses become higher if you're consuming homemade jerky or meats that are filled with added nitrates and aren't fully cooked. It's also important to always consult your doctor.