Gyros are loved for their delicious flavor and tasty fillings. Can pregnant women enjoy them?
Gyros are safe to eat during pregnancy as long as the meat is properly cooked. Additionally, make sure the fillings are pregnancy safe. Feta cheese must be made from pasteurized milk, sauces should be pasteurized and stabilized, and vegetables should be thoroughly washed.
How should you order your gyro, can you make it at home, and what should you look out for when buying gyro ingredients? We’ll answer all these questions below!
Can Pregnant Women Eat Gyros?
Gyros contain several ingredients, and they all need to be considered to determine safety.
The main ingredients of gyros include ground meat (either beef, lamb, or a combination of both, with poultry as an alternative), pita bread, sauce (tzatziki is commonly used), feta cheese, vegetables, and condiments.
In restaurants, gyro meat is commonly cooked on a rotisserie. Ask for the crusty meat on the outside of the rotisserie to be added to your gyro to ensure it is thoroughly cooked (Source: Journal of Food Protection).
When making gyro meat at home, cook a small portion of meat – just as much as you need – to eliminate the risks of storing and reheating leftover gyros (Source: Journal of Food Protection).
Gyro meat should always be thoroughly cooked to an internal meat temperature of 160°F (71.1°C) (source: USDA). Keep the meat at or above 140°F (60°C) until you are ready to serve.
To safely store leftover gyros, cut them into smaller portions, allow them to cool completely, and always reheat them to 160°F (71.1°C) or higher.
It is safest not to reheat leftover gyro meat under the broiler. Instead, reheat your gyro with the grill, microwave, or stovetop (source: Journal of Food Protection).
Pita bread, feta cheese, sauces, and vegetables are discussed below.
Is Gyro Meat Safe During Pregnancy?
Gyro meat is safe to eat during pregnancy, as long as it is cooked and stored at proper temperatures.
Gyro meat that is inadequately prepared can cause foodborne illnesses caused by Staphylococcus, as well as salmonellosis and gastroenteritis.
According to a study, bacteria known as Clostridium perfringens were found under the surface of cooked gyro meat.
The study examined different methods for reheating gyro meat. In meat reheated in the oven, the bacteria in food were killed throughout. In meat reheated under the broiler, only bacteria on the surface were killed. (source: Journal of Food Protection).
Cheese and Sauces on Gyros When Pregnant
Gyros typically contain feta cheese. Feta cheese is safe for pregnant women if it’s made with pasteurized milk.
Sauces added to gyros are usually tzatziki, tahini, or hummus. Commercial tzatzikis are usually safe because they are made with Greek yogurt.
Commercial yogurt is pasteurized (source: FDA). The only difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt is that the former is strained several times, which makes it thicker.
Tahini and hummus, like tzatziki sauce, have high moisture content. This makes them susceptible to contamination if they are not stored properly. It might be best to skip the hummus or tahini on your gyro when pregnant. For more on this, read our hummus article.
Other Gyro Ingredients
Store-bought fresh or frozen pita bread should be safe because manufacturers are to comply with USDA processing guidelines for pita bread (source: USDA).
Gyros also contain fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, and lettuce. These vegetables are safe as long as you wash or prepare them properly. To learn more about the best way to wash and prepare vegetables, read this article.
Gyros can be enjoyed by pregnant women as long as they meet the food safety recommendations for all the ingredients. We hope this article has answered all your gyro safety questions!