Can You Eat Stuffing With Meat In It If You're Pregnant?

by Yvette Manes

Pregnant moms have to be extra careful with the foods they eat. Some are clearly on the no-no list: raw meat, sushi, pâté, unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses made from them. Then there are the foods a lot of moms-to-be didn't realize could be dangerous: deli meat, eggs with soft yolks, and even restaurant-made Caesar dressing. With the holidays around the corner, expecting moms are researching which Thanksgiving dishes they have to avoid. When it comes to stuffing and casseroles, moms are asking can you eat stuffing with meat in it if you are pregnant?

It used to be tradition to cook the stuffing inside the turkey, some of your relatives may still cook it this way. But chef Alton Brown wrote on his website:

"As the turkey around it cooks, juices that may contain salmonella bacteria soak into the stuffing, which then must be cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order to be safe. Getting the stuffing to this temperature usually means overcooking the turkey."

To be on the safe side, Brown suggested cooking the stuffing separately, and then stuffing it in the fully cooked turkey as it rests to collect the juices.

But what if you are thinking about cooking stuffing with meat in it? Several popular stuffing recipes include ground sausage, beef, turkey, or chicken as an ingredient. Ground meats need extra safe handling as they are more susceptible for bacterial growth. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Drug Administration (USDA-FDA) ground beef and sausage must be cooked to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and ground poultry must be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember that the color of the meat is not a reliable indicator of safety or doneness, you have to check the temperature.

As long as your cook your meat thoroughly prior to adding it to the stuffing, and you cook the stuffing outside of the turkey, as in a casserole, your dish should be safe to eat this Thanksgiving.