The first time I bit into a hamburger while I was pregnant, I spit it out immediately. Suddenly, hamburger was the most repulsive taste on the planet. My real craving was for a juicy, all beef hot dog on a poppy seed bun. Unfortunately for my cravings, everyone told me that eating hot dogs while pregnant was basically the equivalent of feeding your infant mashed up french fries with arsenic. I think someone actually told me, “it could kill your baby!” A photo depicting Tori Spelling eating a hot dog while she was pregnant received a lot of heat. Could they really be that bad?
The reason hot dogs are “banned” from pregnant women’s diets is the fact that they are part of the cold lunch meat category, which can harbor the bacteria called Listeria. Hots dogs and lunch meat are not the only hiding places for this bacteria. Uncooked meats and vegetables, unpasteurized milk, foods made from unpasteurized milk, and processed foods are all possible carriers. The good news is Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking. That is where the danger in lunch meat lies: they are precooked and the bacteria may be introduced after cooking and before packaging.
If you crave a hot dog, go ahead and eat one. Just follow these rules:
1. DON’T eat the hot dogs at gas stations or other places where they are just lazily spinning around on those heated rollers.
2. DO purchase hot dogs from the grocery store and cook them at home. Heat them until they are steaming hot (or 160 degrees Fahrenheit).
3. DO order a hot dog at a restaurant if you can verify that the hot dog has been heated to a safe temperature immediately before serving. (Not thirty minutes prior, etc.)
4. DON’T eat hot dogs every day. Even if they don’t contain harmful bacteria, they don’t contain very many healthy nutrients either.