Can You Eat Medium Steak While Pregnant?

Can You Eat Medium Steak While Pregnant?

Steak is a favorite meal for many. The rich, beefy flavor and juicy texture make it a craveable dinner. However, when you become pregnant your cooking habits may need to change, especially when it comes to preparing steak.

As an expectant mom, you may be wondering if you can still enjoy a medium steak or if you need to adjust the doneness. In this post, I’ll go over the safety concerns with undercooked steak during pregnancy and give tips on the best way to satisfy your steak cravings.

Should Pregnant Women Avoid Medium-Rare Steak?

When steak is cooked to medium-rare, it still has a reddish-pink interior and warm red center. Many steak lovers prefer this doneness for optimal juiciness and flavor. However, medium-rare steak is generally not recommended while pregnant.

The reason is that medium-rare steak has only been cooked to an internal temperature of 135°F-145°F (57°C-63°C). To destroy any potential bacteria or parasites that could cause foodborne illness, ground meats, steak, and other beef should reach at least 145°F (63°C) during pregnancy.

Since medium-rare steak hasn’t met this safe minimum internal temperature, it’s best for expectant mothers to avoid less-cooked steaks and aim for well-done to maximize safety.

Is Medium-Well Steak Safe During Pregnancy?

Cooking steak to medium-well means taking the internal temperature up to about 150°F-155°F (65°C-68°C). This exceeds the recommended 145°F (63°C) threshold. However, it still may retain a bit of pinkness in the center.

While reaching this higher temperature likely destroys most harmful bacteria, some experts advise pregnant women to steer clear of all pink meat to be extra cautious.

Rather than looking at the color of the steak to judge if it’s cooked through, focusing on precisely measuring the internal temperature using a food thermometer is a safer route.

What Temperature Should Steak Reach for Pregnant Women?

To ensure steak is safe to eat during pregnancy, it should reach an internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C). Using a food thermometer is the only way to accurately check this, since color is not a reliable indicator.

The USDA recommends cooking beef to a minimum temperature of 145°F, but when you’re pregnant you may want to cook steak to an even higher temperature for an added safety margin.

Some recommendations are to cook beef to 160°F (71°C) while pregnant. This temperature guarantees any bacteria or parasites are killed, though it will result in a gray, fully well-done steak.

Talk to your doctor about what minimum internal temperature they advise for steak and other meats during pregnancy. But reaching at least 145°F measured with a food thermometer is a good target to aim for.

Dealing with Cravings for Less-Cooked Steak

If you have cravings for juicy, pink steak while pregnant, you may feel disappointed at the idea of only eating well-done. Here are some tips to satisfy your steak urges safely:

  • Cook steak to 145°F+ and allow resting time – Keeping the internal temperature above 145°F but allowing the steak to rest 5-10 minutes after cooking can maximize juiciness. Use seasoning or steak sauce to boost the flavor.
  • Try other beef cuts – Look for lean cuts like top sirloin that can still be juicy and flavorful when cooked through. Or marinate tougher cuts like round or chuck steak.
  • Use a meat thermometer – Don’t rely on appearance to judge doneness. Use an instant-read thermometer to remove steaks from heat at 145°F.
  • Adjust cooking method – Try marinades, brining, or more gentle cooking like sous vide to improve texture. Sear for flavor then use indirect heat to bring to a safe temperature.
  • Satisfy the urge safely – It’s OK to give into cravings as long as you follow food safety guidelines. Enjoy your well-done steak knowing you’re making the healthy choice for your baby.

The key is to use preparation methods and seasoning to enhance the flavor of well-done steak. Monitoring the temperature and allowing resting time will also maximize moisture. While you may need to say goodbye to medium rare, you can still satisfy your steak craving with some adjustments.

The Takeaway on Eating Steak While Pregnant

Steak offers important nutrients like iron, zinc, and B-vitamins that can support a healthy pregnancy. However, undercooked steak that is rare or pink in the middle pose a higher risk for food poisoning.

To enjoy steak safely and avoid potentially harmful bacteria or parasites, pregnant women should cook all beef to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). Use a food thermometer to accurately measure doneness instead of relying on color and textures.

While you may have to modify your normal preparation techniques, you don’t have to give up steak entirely while pregnant. With some adjustments to ensure proper and thorough cooking, steak can still be a delicious part of a well-balanced prenatal diet. Listen to your cravings for this hearty protein and enjoy it cooked to a safe temperature for you and your baby.

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