Can You Eat Pastrami While Pregnant?

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Yes, you can eat pastrami while pregnant, but it needs to be heated until steaming hot to kill any potential bacteria.

Pregnancy comes with a long list of dietary restrictions, and deli meats like pastrami often raise concerns due to the risk of listeria contamination. However, with proper precautions, pastrami can be safely enjoyed during pregnancy. This article explores the safety, nutritional value, risks, and alternatives to pastrami consumption for expectant mothers.

What is Pastrami?

Pastrami is a cured and smoked deli meat made from beef brisket or beef navel. It is seasoned with a blend of spices, including black pepper, coriander, garlic, and mustard. Pastrami has a distinctive flavor and is often served on sandwiches or as a part of a deli platter.

Nutritional Value of Pastrami

Nutritional ValueDetails
ProteinHigh in protein, providing around 15-20 grams per 3-ounce serving.
FatRelatively high in fat, with around 10-15 grams per 3-ounce serving, mostly from the curing process.
SodiumHigh in sodium, with around 1,000-1,500 mg per 3-ounce serving due to the curing and brining process.

Risks of Eating Pastrami During Pregnancy

ListeriaPastrami, like other deli meats, carries a risk of listeria contamination, which can lead to listeriosis, a serious infection that can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or life-threatening complications for the newborn.
NitritesPastrami contains nitrites, which are added as preservatives but may be linked to an increased risk of certain cancers and other health issues.

Safe Ways to Eat Pastrami During Pregnancy

To safely consume pastrami during pregnancy, it is crucial to heat it until steaming hot, as this will kill any potential listeria bacteria present. Avoid consuming pastrami or any deli meat cold or at room temperature.

Alternatives to Pastrami During Pregnancy

Fresh roasted or grilled meatsEnsure they are cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C).
Canned or shelf-stable meatsCheck for signs of spoilage or damage to the packaging.
Plant-based protein sourcesOpt for options like beans, lentils, tofu, and tempeh.

Expert Tips

  1. “Pregnant women should avoid eating hot dogs, lunch meats, cold cuts, or other deli meats unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot.”
  2. “If you plan to eat deli meats anyway, we highly suggest cooking them until they are steaming. If the meat is heated to steaming, any present Listeria bacteria should no longer be alive.”
  3. “Deli meats are one of the most common food items across the country. They are found in food chains, grocery stores, and local delis. Because they are so common, many people are surprised to discover there is a negative relationship with pregnancy.”


Can I eat pastrami from a deli counter during pregnancy?

No, it is not recommended to consume pastrami or any deli meat directly from the deli counter without heating it until steaming hot first. The risk of listeria contamination is higher with unheated deli meats.

Is it safe to eat pastrami on a sandwich during pregnancy?

Pastrami can be safely consumed on a sandwich during pregnancy, but only if the meat is heated until steaming hot before being added to the sandwich.

How much pastrami can I eat during pregnancy?

While there is no specific limit, it is generally recommended to consume pastrami and other cured meats in moderation during pregnancy due to their high sodium and nitrite content.

Can I eat pastrami if I’m vegetarian or vegan during pregnancy?

No, pastrami is a meat product made from beef brisket or beef navel, so it is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Plant-based protein alternatives should be considered instead.

Is it safe to eat pastrami during the first trimester of pregnancy?

The risk of listeria contamination from pastrami and other deli meats is present throughout pregnancy. As long as the pastrami is heated until steaming hot, it can be consumed safely during any trimester.


Pastrami can be a delicious and protein-rich addition to a pregnant woman’s diet, but it must be consumed with caution. Heating pastrami until steaming hot is crucial to eliminate the risk of listeria contamination, which can have severe consequences for the developing baby. By following proper food safety guidelines and considering alternative protein sources, expectant mothers can enjoy pastrami while prioritizing their health and the well-being of their unborn child.

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