Can I Eat Corned Beef While Pregnant

Find out if its safe to eat corned beef during pregnancy, plus precautions to take to keep yourself and your baby healthy.

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Whole Corned Beef (Salt Beef) & Pregnancy Safety

Canned corned beef is very different from traditional corned beef, which is usually a whole brisket or similar cut. This is then cured in a salty brine (‘corned’, refers to corns of salt), and then cooked.

“Salt beef” is a more popular term in the USA, but it refers to the same thing – a whole joint of beef (usually brisket) that has been salted/brined and cured.

“Homemade” salt beef or corned beef is this type. When you’re eating out, or didn’t make the corned beef yourself, ask if it’s from a can. If it isn’t, then it’s whole corned beef, from a joint.

Whole corned beef, or salt beef, should be heated before you eat it. It should be treated as if it’s deli meat (see below).

What About Corned Beef Sandwiches in Pregnancy? (e.g. Reuben)

If the corned beef is served hot in a sandwich, then it’s safe for you to eat in pregnancy. You might have to ask for the corned beef to be heated more than usual, as it needs to be hot, and not just warm.

For example, Reuben sandwiches are often grilled, using cold slices of corned beef. The grilling process might only warm the meat rather than get it hot, so ask the sandwich seller to heat the corned beef separately first.

30 seconds in the microwave or under a grill for a few minutes should get it to the ‘steaming hot’ temperature that kills potential bacteria like listeria (this is 165F or 75C). There’s a guide here to getting deli meat up to temperature.

This also applies if you’re making a sandwich at home from corned beef you’ve bought from a store or deli, or if you’re eating any sandwich that can be classed as corned beef or ‘hot salt beef’. Get it hot, and it’s safe for you to eat during your pregnancy.

Is Corned Beef a Deli Meat?

Deli meats are potentially unsafe because of the way they are stored and displayed, rather than what meat they’re made from. “Deli meat” is usually cold, cooked meat, often pre-sliced or sliced to order.

For the purposes of pregnancy safety, corned beef should be treated like deli meat.

This means:

  • If you’ve made the corned beef yourself, homemade corned beef is safe to eat when it’s freshly cooked. Then follow the instructions below for reheating it safely.
  • If you’re buying salt beef or corned beef from a packet or a deli (pre-sliced OR whole), then treat it as you would deli meat. This means that in order for it to be safe, you’ll need to heat up the meat until it’s steaming hot. This is a temperature of 165F / 75C.
  • Deli meat such as corned beef shouldn’t be eaten cold. For more information on eating deli meat in pregnancy, including how to heat it up safely, there’s a whole article dedicated to deli meat here.

    In the UK, cold corned beef in a packet from the supermarket chiller is considered safe during pregnancy (source: NHS).


    Is corned beef safe while pregnant?

    Ready-to-eat meats, such as hot dogs or deli meats (ham, bologna, salami, and corned beef), unless they’re microwaved to steaming hot. Refrigerated pâté, meat spreads, or smoked seafood. You can eat canned products, such as shelf-stable pâtés, meat spreads, or smoked seafood that has been canned.

    What meats should you avoid when pregnant?

    Avoid undercooked meat, poultry and eggs

    To prevent foodborne illness: Fully cook all meats and poultry before eating. Use a meat thermometer to make sure. Cook hot dogs and luncheon meats until they’re steaming hot — or avoid them completely.

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