Mortadella in pregnancy

Mortadella in pregnancy

Pregnancy and Mortadella

Mortadella in pregnancy: introduction

Pregnancy is a very delicate special physiological condition, in which diet can exert a positive or negative influence on the unborn child; in this article we will focus on the relevance or otherwise of mortadella in pregnancy.

Many people think that mortadella, as a sausage, should be totally excluded from the diet of pregnant women; this is because, among the various dangers in pregnancy, there are also the dreaded foodborne illnesses (infections, poisonings, toxinfections and parasitosis of food aetiology ) and the risks linked to the intake of food additives .Cured meats, cold cuts and sausages ( raw preserved meat ) are risky during pregnancy due to:

  • The presence of pathogens in raw materials
  • The possible absence of cooking , which does not guarantee the wholesomeness of the finished food
  • The presence of problematic additives.

However, it must be remembered that mortadella, being cooked, may not have the same risk index as raw preserved meat . Let’s go into more detail.


Dangers of foodborne illnesses in pregnancy

The most dangerous foodborne illnesses in pregnancy are those that can compromise, even irreversibly, the state of health of the unborn child. In reality, any pathology, depending on the severity, can interfere with the success of the pregnancy. However, most of these act indirectly, significantly debilitating the state of health of the mother or preventing the correct nutrition of the same necessary for fetal development. Fortunately, only a few foodborne illnesses are capable of directly influencing the health of the unborn child; this does not mean that this possibility should be taken lightly.

Pregnant women must be especially careful not to contract two diseases, toxoplasmosis and listeriosis:

  • Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii . If the infection occurs during pregnancy, in 30% of cases it crosses the placenta and reaches the baby; as gestational age increases , the chances of infection of the fetus also increase. There are therefore high probabilities that the unborn child will manifest the so-called congenital toxoplasmosis ; this can lead to fetal malformations (especially neurological), premature birth , abortion and death of the child
  • Listeriosis is a bacterial infection caused primarily by Listeria monocytogenes and marginally by L. ivanovii and L. grayi . Listeria, having reached the intestine by mouth and subsequently spread into the bloodstream, can proliferate (initially without symptoms ) in the vagina and uterus . The symptoms only become evident in the third month of a possible pregnancy and last for 7-10 days. Among the most fearsome consequences of listeriosis are highlighted: spontaneous abortion , childbirthpremature and life-threatening infection of the newborn. 30% of cases of listeriosis affect pregnant women and 22% of the severe forms contracted during pregnancy cause fetal loss or neonatal death; mothers tend to survive.

Learn more about Toxoplasmosis

In healthy adults (including non-pregnant women), toxoplasmosis infection usually causes no obvious symptoms. Occasionally, mild flu symptoms occur, including muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes . Eye problems can develop in a small number of people. Toxoplasma infection, even in healthy people, does not heal in the strict sense of the word. The parasite isolates itself within the muscles and remains under control for life thanks to the action of the immune system . In immunocompromised people , severe symptoms such as seizures and coordination difficulties may occur. The contagionfrom toxoplasmosis generally occurs by consuming raw or undercooked food that contains the parasite cysts, exposing oneself to the infected feces of the cat and, as we have said, from mother to child during pregnancy. Rarely, this disease can be spread by blood transfusion . It is not otherwise spread among people. The parasite reproduces sexually only in cats but can infect most warm-blooded animals, including humans. Diagnosis is easy; a blood test is performed for specific antibodies or by testing the amniotic fluid ( amniocentesis ) for the search for the DNA of the parasite.

Prevention of toxoplasmosis simply consists in respecting the basic rules of hygiene and in cooking the food completely . Pregnant women are advised to avoid cleaning the cat litter box and gardening operations, especially with bare hands and before meals. For normal people, unaffected by pregnancy, no treatment is usually needed. During pregnancy, however, to minimize the risks associated with the disease, it is customary to administer spiramycin or pyrimethamine/sulfadiazine and folinic acid.

Half of the world’s population has been infected with toxoplasmosis but has not developed any symptoms.

Learn more about Listeriosis

Listeria is a ubiquitous (ubiquitous) pathogen that is mainly transmitted orally through the ingestion of contaminated food products . In healthy people it is responsible for food pathologies such as gastroenteritis ; in people with a compromised immune system, pregnant women, newborns and the elderly , on the other hand, it can penetrate the body passing through the intestine and causing bacteremia, systemic infections or infections affecting the central nervous system ( meningitis , meningoencephalitis, brain abscess , cerebritis, etc. ).

Listeriosis is manifested by diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, fever , body aches, stiff neck , confusion , seizures and, as we have seen, pregnancy complications. Symptoms related to septicemia can occur even two months after ingestion.

The prevention of listeriosis for pregnant women is essentially of a food hygiene type; it is advisable to avoid unpasteurized pâtés , raw minced sausages and high-risk foods such as blue or molded, soft cheeses such as feta , brie , camembert , bleu. Diagnosis of listeriosis requires detection of the bacterium in the blood and/or cerebrospinal fluid . Treatment includes the prolonged administration of antibiotics , mainly ampicillin and gentamicin , to which the body is usuallysensitive .

Mortadella additives: are they bad for pregnancy?

For many years, mortadella has been produced with the addition of various types of additives. Among these we recognize: dyes , artificial flavors, flavor enhancers, powdered milk , phosphates , antioxidants and other types of preservatives . However, a trend reversal has recently been witnessed, mainly caused by the alarmism about the hypothetical unhealthiness of these ingredients. The focus was mainly on additives: E450 (diphosphates), E451 (triphosphates) and E452 ( polyphosphates ).

In reality, as scientific research shows, within the limits imposed by law, these supplementary ingredients are totally harmless. At high doses they appear to be responsible for a decrease in intestinal calcium absorption , metabolic and digestive compromises and hyperactivity.

On the other hand, to meet the needs of the most scrupulous mothers, today the food industry has modernized the mortadella recipe by depriving it of most of the additives, including the dreaded phosphates.


Is mortadella allowed during pregnancy?

Yes. Commercial mortadella, fresh, well preserved and just opened is considered safe. It is different for homemade products, however very rare in the case of mortadella. It is also advisable to avoid foods that have been open for some time, exposed to the air and previously come into contact with worktops or handled.

Due to the deep and total cooking system that characterizes mortadella, as well as in the case of cooked ham, cooked shoulder , roast turkey and frankfurters , this minced sausage is also allowed in the diet of pregnant women. The heat treatment is sufficiently intense and prolonged to destroy any parasites , such as Toxoplasma gondii (even in the form of cysts), and the most dangerous bacteria , such as Listeria monocytogenes . Fortunately, the latter microorganism is of the Gram positive type (it does not have endotoxinsheat-stable), aspore-forming (does not produce heat-stable spores) and multiplies effectively only around 30 °C, while it dies completely at pasteurization temperature (75-85 °C); this means that, unlike other bacteria, it is only dangerous when it is alive.

Also as regards the presence of food additives, mortadella is considered safe. Today most of the recipes totally exclude the presence of phosphates but, even if this were not the case, we remind you that the concentrations allowed by the parameters of the law do not have any kind of contraindication for the health of consumers, not even during pregnancy.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *