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Can Pregnant Women Eat Hot Dogs – Is It Safe?

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Pregnant women, especially first-time moms are usually overwhelmed with the type of meals to avoid and what is safe or unsafe for the unborn child. As a first-time mom, you should desist from meals that would be dangerous to the baby and focus on the ones that would supply all the needed nutrients. Therefore, can pregnant women eat hot dogs? The short answer is “yes”.

Pin Image of hot dogs; is it safe for pregnant women?

However, during pregnancy, you should be more concerned about the well-being of the baby and as such eat only meals that contain the essential nutrients for the child. 

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So, eating hot dogs while pregnant is safe; however, it is advisable to cut down on the consumption of processed foods while pregnant. Also, if you must eat hot dogs during pregnancy – you must ensure that it is properly cooked over 1600F

What Is A Hot Dog?

A hot dog is a steamed or American barbeque with a sausage nicely placed between a sliced bun or a bread.

Ingredients Used In The Preparation Of A Hot Dog

  • Processed meat which can either be chicken, beef, turkey, or a pork
  • A hot bun or bread
  • Mayonnaise
  • Caramelized onions
  • Flavorings such as pepper, garlic, paprika, and salt
  • Preservatives like sodium nitrate and sodium erythorbate
  • Garnishes like tomato and mustard sauce, tomato ketchup, coleslaw, and cheese
Photo of hot dogs; can pregnant women eat them?

Is It Okay To Eat Hot Dogs When Pregnant?

One hot dog contains up to 200 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of proteins, and about 500 milligrams of sodium. These nutrients are not harmful to the fetus but there is a need to create a nutritional balance by introducing fruits and vegetables, some dairy products, and grains into the diets.

So, there is no need to avoid hot dogs while pregnant. Besides, you must ensure that hot dogs are well-cooked – at a temperature that is over 1600F – a safe temperature for hot dogs. Why? Because the processed meats like sausages are easily contaminated by a bacteria called Listeria during the packaging process. And if the bacterium by any means gains access into the pregnant mom and is passed to the fetus – it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth defects.

Interestingly, the Listeria bacteria can be eliminated by heat (1600F and above). So, the bottom line is that the meat should be thoroughly cooked before eating. The pregnancy period should not be a phase for test-running anything.

What Kind Of Hot Dogs Can A Pregnant Woman Eat?

You should tread with caution while eating hot dogs because they are made from processed meats and could contain Listeria. Hot dogs must be properly cooked to destroy Listeria monocytogenes – the causative agent of listeriosis that causes some illnesses in pregnancy

So, the highpoints in making hot dogs ready for consumption are the cooking temperature and serving temperature. A meat thermometer can be used in monitoring the temperature when you are preparing it yourself.

Are Hot Dogs In Tins, Jars, Or Cans Safe For A Pregnant Woman?

No matter how the hot dog is packaged, it should be adequately cooked before consumption if you are pregnant.

How Does Listeria Affect A Pregnancy?

Listeria in itself does not pose any danger to an adult but it does for a pregnant woman. During pregnancy, a woman is about 20 times more prone to bacterial infection than other adults – making it more severe for mother and child.

Bacterial infection can happen at any stage of the pregnancy. However, it takes between 2 to 30 days before the onset of the symptoms. The symptoms associated with Listeria are usually different from the ones experienced by a pregnant woman. These symptoms become serious and deadly when transferred to the nervous system.

The initial signs are diarrhea, headaches, nausea, and muscle aches. After making its way into the nervous system, she might begin to experience stiffness of the neck and convulsion – urgent medical attention is needed when any of these is experienced.

Though the chances of suffering from severe Listeria infection are slim, this does not rule out the fact that they are still very much present.

Healthiest Ways To Cook Hot Dogs

Photo of a hot dog being barbecued ; safe to eat by pregnant women

When cooking a hot dog, you should always be on the lookout for the internal temp of the hot dog. Therefore, you should aim for 1750F (750C).

Also, you should eat a hot dog as soon as you are done cooking. It is not advisable to allow it to cool down for a long time before eating – eat it while it’s hot. You should also ensure that they are properly cooked especially when cooking from a frozen state.

The following are some cooking methods;


This involves putting the hot dogs in hot water for about 2 to 3 minutes or as directed to do on the packets. It should be steaming hot inside the water when serving. However, warm water should not be used as a replacement for hot water.


This can be done by putting the hot dogs in a safe bowl with water. Some others make use of a paper towel in wrapping the hot dog before cooking for about one minute – though this is usually based on the power of the microwave.

Oven baking

The hot dogs should be oven-baked at 3500F (1750C) and for about 10 minutes – this will allow it to be cooked on all sides. Besides, all the instructions on the packet should be adhered to.

Precautions For Eating Hot Dogs During Pregnancy

Do not consume hot dogs until they have been cooked to a temperature of 1600F and above and eat it while it’s hot. You must stop eating cold hot dogs.

Do not eat poorly cooked or raw hot dogs

Ensure that the work surfaces are properly wiped with warm water and mild soap before preparation.

Hands must be properly wiped before handling hot dogs and other meats used for the preparation.

You must desist from patronizing unhygienic street shops and stores – there is a higher risk of Listeria contamination.

Refrigerators must always be in clean condition with the temperature set at 400F or below (frozen temperature of 00C or below) to prevent food contamination

Bun and bread are rich in carbohydrates therefore capable of increasing your sugar level – increasing the chances of gestational diabetes.

An average size hot dog (about six inches) contains about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 28 grams of carbohydrate, 2.5 grams of fat, and less than 270 milligrams of sodium. Pregnant moms can gain unhealthy weight due to excess calories.

Risks Associated With Eating Hot Dogs During Pregnancy

Bacterial contamination – Processed meat has the risk of being contaminated with bacteria during the packaging stage. Listeria monocytogenes are present in cured meats and soft cheese and can cross through the placenta to the unborn child.

This bacterium often gives flu-like symptoms and gastrointestinal disorders thereby increasing the chances of miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature birth.

So, to avoid bacterial contamination – you should properly cook it and never eat raw hot dogs.

Sensitivity to hot dog ingredients – Some pregnant moms might be sensitive to some ingredients in the hot dog such as spices and cheese. This usually leads to allergic reactions which result in bloating, constipation, flatulence, and other gastrointestinal disorders. 

For this reason, it is advisable to occasionally eat hot dogs during pregnancy or avoid them until after your delivery if you cannot follow the precautionary measures to stay safe.

Complications from sodium nitrate – The food preservatives used in extending the shelf life and enhancing the color of hot dogs contain both sodium nitrites and sodium nitrates. These preservatives increase the risk of blood vessel damage and pancreatic cancer.

Also, the presence of sodium increases the chances of cardiac diseases – because it is bad for the heart and the risk of high blood pressure. It is however recommended to inculcate natural foods that are rich in sodium in your pregnancy diet and not rely on hot dogs which contain what is higher than needed during pregnancy.

Therefore, the best way to avoid complications from sodium nitrate is by going for hot dogs free of nitrates. The nitrate-free hot dogs are low in fat, contain soy, vegetables, and grains. Besides, they have the same taste as the real one. Brands like Ball Park and Oscar Meyer offer nitrates free hot dogs.

Hot Dogs Alternatives During Pregnancy

To eradicate the risk associated with bacteria and sodium nitrate present in hot dogs, you can consider other healthy options.

A good example is the meat-free hot dogs rich in vegetables, grains, and soy. They are low in fat, low risk of bacterial contamination, and vegetarian-friendly.

Some Alternative Snacks To Hot Dogs During Pregnancy

Flavored Yoghurt: The daily consumption of a low-fat yogurt helps to supply adequate calcium to the baby – this enhances proper bone development for the unborn. Also, flavored yogurts are a good source of sugar and proteins which is not only healthy for the mother but also the baby.

Smoothies: You could add both milk and some fruits into the yogurt to make smoothies. With this, you are guaranteed some extra vitamins and fiber making it healthy for the unborn baby and the mother.

Hummus: This is rich in protein. Adding this to your pregnancy diets would supply the required protein needed by the body. Besides, you can add pepper and carrots for the supply of extra vitamins and fiber.

Other snacks are tortillas, popcorns, and some baked items.


There is no reason to avoid hot dogs while pregnant. If you are craving hot dogs during pregnancy go ahead and have it. But make sure that it is adequately cooked to the temperature where all the bacteria are destroyed and eliminated.

However, there is a need to make up for the lost nutrients by introducing other healthy diets into your dishes.

Besides, you might also want to consult with your doctor before introducing hot dogs to your pregnancy diet.

Have a smooth pregnancy journey!

Lily & The MBH Team
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