Can Pregnant Women Eat Salted or Preserved Eggs?

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Salted or preserved eggs are a popular ingredient in some Asian dishes. Due to the safety concerns around eggs when pregnant, it’s not surprising that pregnant women wonder if they can eat them.

Overall, salted egg is likely safe for pregnant women to consume if they are boiled completely before eating.

However, preserved eggs are not cooked, and there is a lack of safety guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, avoid preserved eggs, such as the century egg or the hundred-year egg. 

Here, we’ll discuss the preservation or brining process, cooking method (or lack thereof), and the safety of eating salted or preserved eggs during your pregnancy. 

Are Salted Eggs Safe During Pregnancy? 

Overall, salted eggs are safe to consume when pregnant when the eggs are cooked or used in a cooked food product, such as in Asian buns.

Salted eggs are an Asian staple commonly made from duck eggs. They can also be made from chicken eggs, though this is less common.

salted duck eggs on a plate

To make salted eggs, raw eggs are left in a brine or salt solution for an extended period of time – sometimes for months! After the brining process they are cooked.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that pregnant women avoid consuming undercooked or raw eggs or egg products, due to the increased risk of salmonella infection. However, there is no FDA guidance on salted eggs.

Preserved or salted eggs are either boiled or cooked in a food product, such as a Chinese-style bun or a potsticker. These eggs should not be consumed without cooking, even if they have been salted or preserved. 

Eggs that are cooked before eating should be safe to consume during pregnancy. Ensure that they are cooked thoroughly to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]). 

As their name suggests, salted eggs are high in sodium. Excessive salt consumption can contribute to high blood pressure or hypertension, which can be dangerous for pregnant women (source: CDC). Therefore, you should only consume salted eggs in moderation.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Century Eggs or Preserved Eggs? 

“Century” eggs, or hundred-year eggs, are delicacies in China that should be avoided during pregnancy due to a lack of evidence of their safety. Similar to salted eggs mentioned above, there is no FDA guidance on preserved eggs. 

Century eggs were traditionally preserved in ash, lime, salt, clay, and rice (source: Delighted Cooking). However, they are now made with salt brine, calcium hydroxide, and sodium carbonate.

black century eggs on a plate

Many century eggs are also made with lead oxide to speed up the preservation process. Lead can be harmful, especially to pregnant women. Therefore, avoid any century egg products that include this ingredient.

The main difference between century eggs and regular salted eggs is that century eggs are not cooked. There is insufficient evidence as to whether the salt alone “cooks” the egg enough to reduce salmonella risk in pregnant women, and there is no FDA guidance on the matter.

Therefore, it is best to avoid eating century eggs or preserved eggs during your pregnancy. Additionally, like salted eggs, century eggs are high in sodium and can contribute to an increased risk of high blood pressure or hypertension.

I hope this article has answered your questions about consuming salted eggs or preserved eggs during your pregnancy.