Chorizo is delicious on its own, and it can also elevate any dish with its aromatic flavors. But is it safe to eat during pregnancy?
Pregnant women can eat chorizo as long as it is heated or cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160 °F (71 °C) to make it safe for consumption.
Chorizo is available in different types. We will discuss each one here, as well as the best options and dishes for pregnant women. Let’s dive right in!
Is Chorizo Safe for Pregnant Women to Eat?
Pregnant women can eat chorizo as long as it is heated or cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160 °F (71 °C) (source: USDA).
It can be difficult to determine whether or not chorizo is cooked without a thermometer, since most chorizos are red in color. Here’s how you can tell if your chorizo is safe to eat.
For sliced chorizo, it takes a minimum of 5 minutes to reach a safe internal temperature. For one whole link, it will take longer.
For pan-fried chorizo, keep frying until they caramelize and release oil. Cooked chorizo should be firm.
If you are cooking a dish with chorizo as an ingredient, be sure to follow recipe instructions.
Different Types of Chorizo When Pregnant
There are two most common types of chorizo: uncooked and ready-to-eat chorizo.
Chorizo is more commonly known as either Mexican (uncooked/raw) or Spanish (ready-to-eat) chorizo. You can find both varieties in the supermarket or online.
Uncooked chorizo can be fresh, fermented, or smoked. Regardless of the method of preparation, uncooked chorizo still retains a significant amount of moisture. Ready-to-eat chorizo, on the other hand, is dry or semi-dry. It can be smoked or cured (source: Epicurious).
Uncooked chorizo needs to be cooked in order to be safe. Ready-to-eat chorizo is technically uncooked sausage, but the curing and smoking process makes it edible and safe for consumption in most cases.
However, this isn’t the case for pregnant women.
Pregnant women should not consume uncooked or undercooked meat products like chorizo because it can contain pathogens that can cause food-borne illnesses. Cooked chorizo is safe during pregnancy.
The most common foodborne illnesses from sausages like chorizo include Toxoplasma gondii, Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter (source: FDA).
WHO lists ready-to-eat meat products – whether cured, fermented, or cooked – as high-risk foods, which are prone to Listeria bacteria contamination (source: WHO).
Listeria monocytogenes, the harmful bacteria that causes Listeriosis, is particularly a concern in uncooked and ready-to-eat foods, including chorizo.
This is because, according to a study, it grows even in refrigerated raw foods and sticks to various surfaces where food is processed. Some strains are also resistant to disinfectants (source: Journal of Applied Microbiology).
Moreover, E. coli also doesn’t easily die during the dry fermenting process of sausages (source: USDA).
Listeriosis can be fatal for people with compromised immune systems, including pregnant women. In fact, women are twenty times more likely to get listeriosis during pregnancy. (source: WHO).
What to Look for When Buying Chorizo
Spanish chorizo, or ready-to-eat chorizo, has the following label on the packaging:
- Fully Cooked
- Dry Cured
- Air Dried
- No Refrigeration Needed
Meanwhile, Mexican chorizo or uncooked chorizo has the following label on the packaging:
- Ready to Cook
- Cook Before Eating
- Cook and Serve
- Needs to be Fully Cooked
This type of chorizo is usually perishable because it is made fresh. For this variety, the following label applies:
- Keep Refrigerated
- Keep Frozen
Is Cooked Chorizo Safe During Pregnancy?
Whether you choose Mexican or Spanish chorizo, you will need to cook or heat it to ensure safety during pregnancy. You can pan-fry, bake, grill, or roast it together with other ingredients to make an amazing dish! Chorizo can also be considered deli meat and a part of charcuterie.
No matter how you use it, cooking chorizo will not result in a loss of flavor. In fact, cooked chorizo tastes especially delicious because heat releases all its flavors.
If you want to eat leftover chorizo, you can reheat it up to the safe internal temperature of 160 °F (71 °C).
Some great chorizo recipe ideas include:
- Chorizo tacos
- Chorizo and shrimp paella
- Potato salad with cooked chorizo
- Queso fundido cooked with chorizo
- Grilled seafood and chorizo
- Cooked pasta with chorizo
- Roasted chicken and chorizo
- Frittata with chorizo
Remember, though, that chorizo is high in salt, cholesterol, and fat (especially when fat is added to the production).
A 3.5-ounce (100 g) chorizo sausage contains 983 mg sodium, 107 mg cholesterol, and 28 g of fat. That is 43%, 36%, and 36% of the daily value, respectively (source: NutritionValue).
Eating more than 3 servings will exceed the recommended daily allowance.
You can also use chorizo as a garnish or topping to a main dish so as not to consume too much salt or preservatives if this is a concern.
When dining out at a restaurant or a friend’s barbecue party, ask that your chorizo be cooked thoroughly.
The good news is, you don’t have to stay away from chorizo for the duration of your pregnancy, as long as it’s cooked! We hope this article has guided you with all your chorizo needs.