Can You Eat Medium Steak While Pregnant?

By KidSpaceStuff •  Updated: 03/16/24 •  8 min read

Pregnancy brought with it a plethora of surprises, some delightful and others, well, challenging to navigate.

If you’re wondering “Can I eat medium steak while pregnant” – you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, I’ll explore the potential dangers of medium steak and whether or not it’s safe to eat while pregnant. Let’s dive in!

Can You Eat Medium Steak While Pregnant?

Beef Steak Medium with Red Pepper and Aromatic Herbs

Navigating dietary guidelines during pregnancy can be a maze, and for steak lovers, a pressing question arises: Is it safe to eat medium steak?

The consensus among health experts is caution.

While a medium steak might tantalize your taste buds, it comes with potential risks.

Undercooked meats can harbor harmful bacteria like E. coli and parasites that pose significant health threats to both the mother and the unborn child. Such risks can lead to complications ranging from mild food poisoning to severe conditions affecting fetal development.

For the sake of safety, it’s recommended to opt for well-done steaks during pregnancy, ensuring both the pleasure of a savory meal and peace of mind.

Can You Eat Medium Rare Steak While Pregnant?

Pregnancy is a time of joy, anticipation, and… dietary restrictions. For those of us with a penchant for steaks cooked less than well-done, this often leads to the pressing question: Can you eat medium-rare steak during pregnancy?

The short answer is: it’s best to avoid it.

Doctors and dietary experts advise pregnant women to refrain from eating undercooked meats, including medium-rare steak. It might seem overly cautious, but it’s a recommendation rooted in the safety of both mother and child.

Related Reading: Can Kids Eat Medium Rare Steak?

Can You Eat Medium Well Steak While Pregnant?

For those who prefer their steak with a slight hint of pink but not overly juicy, a medium-well steak is often the go-to choice. This level of doneness ensures that the meat has been cooked to a temperature that significantly reduces potential bacteria and parasites.

While medium-well steaks are generally considered safer than their medium or medium-rare counterparts, especially during pregnancy, it’s crucial to ensure the steak reaches an internal temperature of at least 160°F (71°C) to be considered safe. This ensures a greater margin of safety by eliminating harmful pathogens.

Outside of pregnancy concerns, many find the balance of tenderness and thorough cooking in medium-well steaks to be an ideal compromise between flavor and safety.

What Are the Risks of Eating Medium Steak During Pregnancy?

Understanding the potential risks associated with undercooked steak can provide clarity on why it’s better to opt for well-done meats during pregnancy. Let’s delve into these dangers:

1. Risk of Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease often associated with raw and undercooked meat, particularly lamb and pork. While it may cause flu-like symptoms in the mother, its effects can be much more severe for the unborn baby, leading to blindness, mental disabilities, and in severe cases, miscarriage or stillbirth.

2. Exposure to Harmful Bacteria

Medium or medium-rare steak can harbor harmful bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. In pregnant women, these bacteria can lead to severe food poisoning, which may result in dehydration, preterm labor, or even miscarriage.

3. Increased Risk of Listeriosis

Listeria is a bacteria that can be present in undercooked meats. Unlike other bacteria, listeria can cross the placental barrier, potentially harming the unborn child. This might lead to premature delivery, miscarriage, or other severe health issues for the baby.

4. Inadequate Iron Absorption

Well-cooked meats are a fantastic source of iron, vital for both mother and baby during pregnancy. Undercooked meats might not offer the same level of iron absorption, potentially leaving pregnant women deficient in this crucial mineral.

Tips for Eating Steak While Pregnant

1. Opt for Well-Done

While you might be a fan of medium or rare steaks, pregnancy is a time to prioritize safety. Well-done steaks, cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160°F (71°C), ensure the elimination of most harmful bacteria and parasites that could pose a risk to you and your baby. Yes, the texture and flavor might be different, but it’s a temporary adjustment for a greater cause.

2. Use a Meat Thermometer

Eyeballing or relying on touch isn’t sufficient during pregnancy. A meat thermometer is an invaluable tool that provides an accurate reading of the steak’s internal temperature. By ensuring your steak has reached the safe temperature, you’re prioritizing your health and that of your unborn child.

3. Avoid Cross-Contamination

Raw meats can carry harmful bacteria. When preparing your steak, be diligent. Use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables, and ensure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the steak. This will prevent the spread of potential contaminants to other foods or surfaces.

4. Source Your Steak Carefully

All steaks aren’t created equal. Where your steak comes from can play a significant role in its quality. Choose reputable sources, be it local butchers or trusted stores. Opting for organic or grass-fed beef can further reduce potential exposure to pesticides, contaminants, or synthetic hormones.

5. Limit Frequency

It’s tempting, especially with those pregnancy cravings, to indulge often. However, moderation is key. Not only does this limit any potential risks, but it also ensures that your diet remains varied, offering you and your baby a broader spectrum of nutrients.

6. Be Wary of Marinades and Sauces

Marinades and sauces elevate the taste of steak, but some might contain ingredients best avoided during pregnancy. For example, certain soft cheeses or raw egg-based sauces. Whenever possible, prepare your marinades at home, giving you full control over the ingredients.

7. Rest Your Steak

After taking your steak off the heat, let it sit for several minutes. This resting phase isn’t just for flavor enhancement. It allows the steak to continue cooking slightly from residual heat, ensuring a safer bite, especially if you’re aiming for a well-done texture.

8. Reheat Leftovers Thoroughly

If you’re consuming leftover steak, always ensure it’s reheated until it’s steaming hot throughout. This added step helps kill off any bacteria that might have developed during storage.

Alternatives to Medium Steak During Pregnancy

If you’re a steak enthusiast like me, going nine months without your favorite dish can seem like a tall order. However, there are alternatives:

Opt for Well-Done: The simplest solution might be to switch to well-done steak during pregnancy. Proper cooking ensures harmful bacteria and parasites are killed, making the meat safe to consume.

Experiment with Marinades: A flavorful marinade can make even a well-done steak tender and juicy. Marinades containing acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar can tenderize the meat, ensuring a delicious meal.

Try Different Meat Cuts: Some cuts, like filet mignon, tend to be more tender. These might be more palatable when cooked well-done compared to other steak cuts.

FAQs

How should steak be cooked when pregnant?

When pregnant, it’s crucial to ensure that steak is cooked thoroughly to avoid any potential risks from harmful bacteria. It should ideally be cooked to a well-done state with an internal temperature of at least 160°F (71°C). Using a meat thermometer can provide an accurate reading, ensuring the steak is safe for both mother and baby.

Can I eat pink steak while pregnant?

Consuming pink steak, which is often medium to medium-rare, poses a risk during pregnancy due to potential harmful bacteria that may not be destroyed at lower cooking temperatures. To ensure the utmost safety for both the mother and the unborn child, it’s advisable to avoid steaks that have pink, uncooked centers during pregnancy.

How should I order my steak while pregnant?

When dining out while pregnant, it’s best to order your steak well-done to ensure any harmful bacteria are destroyed. Be specific with your server about your preference and let them know you’re expecting. Some restaurants might even have recommendations or dishes tailored for expectant mothers, ensuring a delightful and safe dining experience.

Here’s a great video on what meats to avoid during pregnancy.

Final Thoughts

Pregnancy is a time of incredible change and adaptation. For the sake of our babies, we make sacrifices, even if it means giving up our favorite medium steak or medium-rare treat. However, it’s essential to remember that these dietary adjustments are temporary. Once our precious ones arrive and we navigate the postpartum period, we can return to enjoying our favorite dishes just as we used to.

Have other questions about pregnancy nutrition? Check out some of these guides!