Tips on What to Eat at a Barbecue when You Are Pregnant

We are in the middle of the summer and there are probably many barbecues in your social schedule’s future. Even if they employ social distancing etiquette and everyone wears masks and gloves, there is still another component that as a pregnant woman you must keep in mind.

Meat and other perishables

Barbecues are wonderful for children of all ages and adults- the hotdogs, hamburgers, steaks, and corn on the cob are all charcoaled to perfection, or so it seems. You actually wouldn’t know if your meat was uncooked unless you were carefully looking.

“Certain foods can harbor bacteria that are particularly dangerous during pregnancy,” explains Mary Lynn, D.O., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois.

However, the risk does not mean that you have to miss out on all the fun! I will list the different kinds of barbecued meat with their risks and the way you can safely enjoy your barbecue!


Hotdogs and other processed meat like deli can have Listeria, a type of bacteria that can cause a rare but dangerous infection. Listeriosis can be associated with miscarriages, stillborn births and birth defects. In order to play it safe, you can make sure all meat is cooked to at least 165 degrees. When you slice it open, the hotdog should be clearly steaming. Steer clear of that tray of cooked frankfurters, since you can’t guarantee that they were heated to the proper temperature unless you can stick it in the microwave as well.


Even if you usually like your hamburgers rare, now is not the time. Pregnancy weakens your immune system, which can leave you more vulnerable to food poisoning. Besides Listeria, raw meat can also contain illness-causing E. coli, Staphylococcus, Salmonella and Camplobacter. Getting sick can bring on dehydration, which may lead to contractions. Take an extra precaution and request a well-done burger.  Double-check that the chef places finished burgers onto a clean plate, so there’s no cross-contamination.


Eating undercooked or raw chicken may set the stage for a risky bout of food poisoning. As you are more susceptible to all forms of dehydration and infection while pregnant, toeing the line is never a good idea. A good idea would be to take the extra step and pre-cook your chicken before putting it on the grill. This minimizes the barbecue time and PAH formation, while still imparting that delicious smoky flavor.

Potato or egg salad

If left out for too long, these amazing salads can become contaminated with bacteria like Listeria. Unless you’re sure that these prepared foods were handled properly and not left out for more than two hours (or one hour if the temperature is more than 90°F), do not help yourself to these dishes.

Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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