Can You Eat a Toasted Ham Sandwich When Pregnant?

Pregnancy cravings can be strong, and when that ham and cheese toasted sandwich is calling your name it may seem irresistible. But is giving in to that craving actually safe when you’re expecting?

As a pregnant woman, you have to be more careful about the foods you eat to protect your health and your growing baby’s health. That means some favorite foods are off limits for nine months. The good news is that with a few precautions, you can safely satisfy your craving for a hot, tasty ham and cheese sandwich.

Why Pregnant Women Need To Be Cautious About Deli Meats

The concern with deli meats like ham and turkey is a higher risk of contamination with listeria, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Pregnant women are 13 times more likely to get listeriosis, the illness caused by listeria, which can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, and other complications.

Deli meats are considered risky because the slicing and packaging process can introduce listeria into the product. The moist environment also allows any bacteria present to multiply rapidly.

Heating Deli Meats Destroys Listeria

The key is that listeria bacteria are killed at high temperatures. So heating deli meats like ham until steaming hot or 165°F destroys any listeria present and makes the meat safe to eat.

With that in mind a toasted ham and cheese sandwich made with properly heated ham is perfectly fine for pregnant women to enjoy!

How To Safely Make a Toasted Ham and Cheese Sandwich While Pregnant

Follow these simple steps for safely indulging your craving:

  • Choose prepackaged sliced ham. Opt for ham you can find refrigerated in the deli section rather than freshly sliced at the deli counter. The prepackaged slices pose less risk of cross-contamination.

  • Inspect ham for an expiration date. Make sure the “sell by” or “use by” date hasn’t passed. This helps ensure it’s fresh and hasn’t been sitting around long enough for bacteria to multiply.

  • Microwave ham 30-60 seconds before toasting. Microwaving quickly heats the ham slices through to temperatures that kill any listeria present. Aim for at least 15-20 seconds per slice.

  • Use pasteurized cheese. Choose cheese made from pasteurized milk like cheddar, swiss, or gouda. Soft cheeses may be made from unpasteurized milk, so avoid those.

  • Toast sandwich until bread is golden brown. Visible browning means the sandwich contents have reached safe temperatures. Toasting both slices well ensures the fillings get hot enough throughout.

  • Let sandwich cool 1-2 minutes after toasting. Taking a quick breather prevents burns. The ham and cheese will remain piping hot inside.

And that’s it! With properly heated deli meat and pasteurized cheese inside toasted bread, you can safely satisfy your ham and cheese sandwich craving during pregnancy.

Other Safety Tips for Eating Deli Meats While Pregnant

Beyond heating deli meats, here are some other good food safety practices to follow with luncheon meats like ham:

  • Avoid eating deli meats cold or straight from the fridge. Always heat them first.

  • Don’t eat deli meats that have been sitting out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Toxins can start forming.

  • Prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw meats like ham separate from other foods in your fridge. Store on the bottom shelf.

  • Check your fridge temperature is below 40°F to inhibit bacteria growth.

  • Don’t purchase damaged or open packages of deli meats. Opt for sealed ones.

  • Throw out deli meats that smell bad or are past their expiration date. When in doubt, throw it out.

  • Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces after handling raw deli meats to prevent spreading bacteria.

Following proper food prep and storage techniques helps minimize risks with luncheon meats like ham. But for pregnant women, thoroughly heating deli meats before eating provides an extra layer of protection.

What About Prepackaged Ham Sandwich Meat?

In some countries like the UK, prepackaged ham sandwich slices found in the supermarket are considered safe for pregnant women to eat cold without heating. That’s because the curing and sealing process is thought to prevent listeria growth.

However, in the US and Canada, health agencies advise pregnant women to heat all deli meats to 165°F first, including prepackaged ham sandwich slices. So for maximum safety, it’s best to heat those too.

Other Pregnancy-Safe Sandwich Fillings

If for some reason heating deli meats isn’t possible, don’t worry, you have lots of other tasty sandwich options in pregnancy! Here are some safe sandwich fillings to try:

Grilled Cheese – Made with cheese from pasteurized milk (cheddar, swiss, gouda) grilled nice and hot. The high heat kills any bacteria.

Egg Salad – Hard boiled eggs mixed with pasteurized mayo make a classic filling. Just don’t use runny eggs.

Hummus – Goes great with sliced veggies on whole grain bread or in a wrap. Look for brands made with pasteurized tahini.

Chicken Salad – Mix chopped cooked chicken breast with a pasteurized mayo or dressing and serve up on bread or a croissant.

Tuna Salad – Albacore tuna and pasteurized mayo make a omega-3 rich sandwich. Limit tuna to twice a week due to mercury.

Peanut Butter – A tasty protein-packed sandwich that’s totally safe in pregnancy. Pair it with banana slices or jam.

With a little creativity, you can come up with lots of delicious sandwich fillings to enjoy during your nine months. But there’s no reason to cut out hot ham and cheese either – just be sure to heat the meat thoroughly first!

The Takeaway on Eating Ham Sandwiches While Pregnant

Ham sandwiches can be safely enjoyed during pregnancy by:

  • Choosing prepackaged sliced ham

  • Microwaving or otherwise heating ham until steaming hot before eating

  • Using cheese made from pasteurized milk

  • Toasting the sandwich well to heat all fillings

Heating deli meats like ham to 165°F kills any listeria bacteria that may be present. So take the extra precaution of giving your ham a quick zap in the microwave before putting it between those slices of bread.

A hot, melty ham and cheese sandwich can hit the spot when pregnancy cravings strike. You don’t have to give it up completely if you take steps to reduce the risks. Now go relax and enjoy that toasted sandwich without guilt or worry! Your growing baby will thank you.

Are deli meats safe during pregnancy? Dietitian explains


Can I have a toasted ham sandwich when pregnant?

Avoid foods such as pate, cold cooked chicken and deli meats such as ham and salami unless reheated to high temperature e.g., on a pizza. Avoid coleslaws, salads and fruit salads unless you are sure they have been freshly prepared.

Is it safe to eat ham during pregnancy?

It is safe to eat cold, pre-packed meats such as ham and corned beef. Although the risk is low, you may also prefer to avoid raw cured meat, such as parma ham, chorizo, pepperoni and salami. Cured meats are not cooked, so they may parasites in them that cause toxoplasmosis.

Is a toasted ham sandwich healthy?

Ham isn’t the healthiest meat option because it falls into the “processed meat” category. Research published in PLOS Medicine found that eating ham may increase your risk for colon and lung cancer. Ham is also high in sodium. An average sized ham sandwich contains 1000 milligrams of sodium.

Can I eat grilled cheese sandwich while pregnant?

If you’re at a restaurant and can’t check the label, know that it’s safe to eat any cheese that’s been heated until it’s steaming hot – for instance, cheese on a pizza or in a grilled-cheese sandwich.

Can pregnant women eat a glazed ham sandwich?

Honey baked or glazed ham is fine (also served hot), as the honey is cooked during the baking process. Uncooked honey is also fine for pregnant women on a baked ham, as long as the honey is pasteurized, so you should check this first. Can I Eat A Grilled or Toasted Ham Sandwich or Croissant When Pregnant?

Is it safe to eat crab meat during pregnancy?

It is safe to eat crab meat during pregnancy as long as it comes from a reliable source, with appropriate hygienic and sanitary conditions for pre-preparation, preparation and packaging of this food.

Can you eat ham during pregnancy?

Here’s the bottom line on ham (and other deli meats) during pregnancy: Nearly all types of food can carry listeria, not just deli meats. According to the CDC, pregnant women are ten times more likely to get sick from listeria. However, listeriosis, while very serious, is still extremely rare.

Can pregnant women eat honey baked ham?

Honey-baked ham is commonly served during the holidays, but is it safe for pregnant women to eat? In most cases, baked ham, including honey-baked ham, is safe for pregnant women to eat, as long as they are baked first and served within 2 hours. Food safety guidelines recommend heating the ham until it’s steaming hot before eating it again.

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