Can I Eat Canned Chicken When Pregnant? Safety Info

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Many look for convenient ways to eat healthy foods, especially during pregnancy. Therefore, let’s talk about if canned chicken is a safe protein source to consume while you are pregnant. 

Overall, canned chicken is safe to consume while pregnant as long as the can is not dented significantly, rusted, leaking, or bloated. Additionally, make sure you store it in a dry and cool place.

Let’s dive into more detail about eating canned chicken during pregnancy and how to consume it safely, including whether it needs to be cooked before eating. Read on!

Is It Safe to Eat Canned Chicken When Pregnant? 

Yes, eating canned chicken is completely safe during pregnancy as long as the can is in good condition. But what does good condition mean? 

Before leaving the grocery store, ensure the canned chicken (or any canned food!) you are purchasing is free of any dents, cracks, or leaks, and ensure that the lid is not bulging. (Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA])

Additionally, ensure you clean the lid of your can before opening it. Especially when the can needs a can opener to open (rather than a pull tab), bacteria can enter the can if it is on the surface of the can lid. 

an opened can of canned chicken with broth

If your can is severely dented and has a very deep indent, the can could have formed a point and punctured the can. This can potentially let in harmful bacteria and microorganisms.

Additionally, bulging can could also be very dangerous because it can contain clostridium botulinum (source: USDA). This is a very dangerous bacteria that can cause adverse effects.

Therefore, they are safe as long as your canned foods are in good condition without noticeable openings or wear. Just be sure to inspect them carefully. 

Safe Storage of Canned Chicken When Pregnant

Also, make sure your storage of canned foods, such as canned chicken, is appropriate. For example, before opening a can of chicken, it is safe to store it in a cool and dry place for up to two to five years (source: Food Bank of Delaware).

However, as soon as the can is opened, it must be eaten within three to five days and should be stored in the refrigerator. 

Sodium Levels in Canned Chicken

However, it is important to note that canned foods often use sodium as a preservative and flavoring agent. Therefore, canned chicken can be very high in salt when compared to regular chicken. 

For example, a one-cup serving of canned chicken (about 205 grams) contains 988 milligrams of sodium (source: United States Department of Agriculture [USDA]). Wow! The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day to reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. 

Therefore, a cup of it contains practically half of the allotted amount of sodium for the entire day! 

three jars of homemade canned chicken

Can I Eat Cold Canned Chicken During Pregnancy? 

Eating cold canned chicken is safe food during pregnancy. In fact, you can safely eat it right from the can!

It makes sense to wonder about the safety of canned meat products, such as chicken, during pregnancy because of the concern over deli meats

However, the FDA specifies that you should not eat meat spreads or pates that need to be refrigerated, but the shelf-stable varieties are safe. While canned chicken is not a meat spread or pate, it is a product that is shelf-stable and can be eaten directly out of the can without heating. 

In other words, you can safely have it cold without the risk of listeria contamination or any other harmful bacteria during pregnancy. So, enjoy it as it is, in a salad, in sandwiches, or in many more ways. Chicken salad, in particular, is something that is safer made at home – for more on this, read our chicken salad in pregnancy article.

In conclusion, I hope you found this article helpful in breaking down the safety of eating canned chicken while you are pregnant.