Does Bacon Contain Listeria? What Pregnant Women Need To Know

Bacon is a breakfast staple for many, but if you’re pregnant, you may be wondering – does bacon contain listeria? I did some digging into this important question to provide expectant mothers with the information they need to enjoy bacon safely

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that can contaminate certain foods, like deli meats, raw milk, and soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. Pregnant women are at higher risk of infection from listeria, which can cross the placenta and possibly lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or illness in the newborn baby.

So does bacon contain listeria? Here’s what you need to know.

Can Raw Bacon Contain Listeria?

Yes, raw bacon can contain listeria. The bacteria can contaminate bacon during processing, packaging, transportation, or storage if proper food safety protocols aren’t followed. For example, if equipment isn’t properly sanitized or if bacon isn’t refrigerated at correct temperatures, listeria can grow and multiply.

There have been cases of recalled bacon found to contain listeria. In 2011, a Canadian company recalled diced bacon products imported to the U.S. due to listeria contamination.

To reduce listeria risks, it’s important to follow safe handling practices like washing hands before and after touching raw bacon, using separate cutting boards, cooking bacon thoroughly, and storing it properly.

How Does Eating Raw Bacon Harm Pregnant Women?

Consuming raw or undercooked bacon when you’re expecting puts you and your baby at risk in a few key ways

  • Listeriosis – Listeria infection during pregnancy can cause fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, and headache in the mother. It can also lead to serious complications like miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm labor, and lifelong disabilities in the baby.

  • High Saturated Fat – The high saturated fat content of bacon can increase cholesterol levels and potentially harm your heart health.

  • Nitrites – Bacon is often cured with nitrites, which can be carcinogenic. Too much exposure to nitrites from processed meats is not considered safe during pregnancy.

To avoid these risks, it’s essential to make sure bacon is fully cooked before eating it.

Is Cooked Bacon Safe During Pregnancy?

The good news is that thoroughly cooked bacon is safe for pregnant women to eat in moderation. The key is making sure it’s hot all the way through, with an internal temperature of 165°F. At that temperature, any lurking listeria or other germs will be killed off.

However, there are still some cautions around eating cooked bacon while expecting:

  • It’s high in saturated fat, so don’t overdo it. Too much can spike cholesterol.

  • Certain types contain potentially harmful nitrites or other preservatives. Opt for fresh, additive-free bacon when possible.

  • Don’t eat bacon that seems undercooked or smells unusual. When in doubt, throw it out.

As long as you cook it properly and pay attention to these warnings, bacon can be part of a healthy pregnancy diet.

7 Tips For Safely Enjoying Bacon While Pregnant

If you’re craving that smoky, salty, crispy bacon, here are some tips to indulge safely:

  1. Cook it thoroughly – Bacon needs to reach an internal temperature of 165°F to kill any bacteria present. Cook it until it’s crispy.

  2. Avoid cold bacon – Cold bacon may not have been cooked long enough to ensure safety. Reheat it before eating.

  3. Limit intake – Enjoy bacon in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet, due to its high salt and saturated fat content.

  4. Choose wisely – Look for high-quality bacon without harmful additives or preservatives like nitrites.

  5. Practice food safety – Wash hands and surfaces after handling raw bacon to avoid cross-contamination.

  6. Use leftovers promptly – Seal and store any leftover cooked bacon in the fridge, and eat within a couple days of opening the package.

  7. When dining out – Don’t order bacon at a restaurant. You can’t control how thoroughly it’s cooked.

Other Foods Pregnant Women Should Avoid

In addition to undercooked bacon, here are some other foods expectant mothers should steer clear of to avoid listeria risks:

  • Pre-cut fruit/vegetable platters or salad bar items

  • Unpasteurized dairy products like soft cheeses and raw milk

  • Deli meats and cheeses like brie, feta, queso fresco, etc.

  • Smoked seafood like salmon, trout, or whitefish

  • Uncooked hot dogs or meat spreads

  • Pâté or meat tenderizers

  • Unpasteurized juice or cider

As long as you avoid these hazardous foods and take proper precautions around handling and cooking meats, you can satisfy those bacon cravings occasionally when pregnant. Moderation and food safety are key!

The Bottom Line

Raw bacon can potentially harbor listeria, a dangerous bacteria for moms-to-be and their unborn babies. However, bacon cooked to 165°F is safe to eat during pregnancy as long as you limit portions and choose additive-free varieties.

Avoid cold leftovers, deli or restaurant bacon, and other uncooked meats to minimize listeria risks. With proper handling and preparation, bacon can still have an occasional place in a healthy pregnancy diet when those cravings strike!

FSA Explains: Listeria


Can bacon have Listeria?

Through routine testing on July 19, 2011, FSIS found a sample of cooked diced bacon imported from Canadian EST No. 169A, Aliments Prince, S.E.C. to be positive for Listeria monocytogenes .

Is bacon ok during pregnancy?

You can enjoy bacon safely during pregnancy. Just make sure to cook it thoroughly, until it’s steaming hot. Avoid ordering bacon at a restaurant because you don’t know how well it’s cooked. If you want to avoid all risks completely, there are meat-free bacon alternatives available, like soy or mushroom bacon.

Is bacon still safe to eat?

Slime: If your bacon is slimy, it’s a sure sign that bacteria are present and spreading on the meat. Toss it out! Discoloration: Green, grey, or brown discoloration means that the bacon is no longer safe to eat. Time to buy a new pack.

Is it safe to eat cold cooked bacon?

If bacon is to be served cold it has to be cooked until quite crisp, carefully drained and then thoroughly blotted to remove every bit of excess fat. Strips of cold, crispy bacon on a sandwich or bits of cold crispy bacon in a salad is delicious. Congealed bacon grease is not.

Can deli meat cause Listeria?

It’s most commonly caused by eating improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products. Healthy people rarely become ill from listeria infection, but the disease can be fatal to unborn babies, newborns and people with weakened immune systems. Prompt antibiotic treatment can help curb the effects of listeria infection.

What causes the listeria incubation period to vary a lot?

The incubation period for Listeria infection can vary due to several factors. It commonly ranges from 1 to 4 weeks, but it may be longer. Variability depends on factors such as the individual’s health, the amount of bacteria ingested, and the specific strain of Listeria. Symptoms may not appear until the bacteria multiply to a certain level. If you suspect a Listeria infection, consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

What foods have a risk for Listeria?

Foods that have a risk of listeria include raw (unpasteurized) milk, soft and semi-soft cheeses, hot dogs, deli meats, ready-to-eat meals, foods at salad bars/sandwich bars/delicatessens, refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads, refrigerated smoked seafood, unwashed raw fruits and vegetables, soft-serve ice cream, and raw shellfish and seafood.

Are melons contaminated with Listeria?

Multistate outbreak: Melons are more likely than many other fruits to be contaminated with Listeria. This is because they have low acidity and can be kept in the refrigerator for a long time. Both these conditions support the growth of Listeria. Multistate outbreak: Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized.

Leave a Comment