Can You Eat Prosciutto Raw? [+Pregnant Women]

All meat lovers love the thinly sliced, aged pink meat, known as prosciutto. Some love their prosciutto more than other forms of pork.

The Italians have perfected the technique, size, and taste over decades, and it is now a world-famous dish.

Italy exports this world-famous meat variety so that everyone enjoys some pork in the best possible way.

Different Italian families have used different recipes to cure and flavor the pork slices over the years.

For those who love their prosciutto, if you ask them to give it up because it is raw meat and may not be safe, they may not oblige.

The meat makers like Del duca, salt and let the thin slices of pork age for a good 1 to 3 years and ensure there are no bacteria in the meat. Then where is the risk? 

Generally speaking, you can eat prosciutto raw. If the meat is cured well for many months, it is perfectly safe to eat it raw. When it goes through the curing process, the salt kills all the microbes and makes prosciutto perfectly safe to eat.

Do You Eat Prosciutto Raw?

Generally, people eat prosciutto raw. It goes through an elaborate process spanning over the years to get the perfectly cured meat slices.

The ham is cured with salt and dried a certain way for 14 to 36 months. 

Once it reaches the required state, the meat curers wash and season the ham piece or slices with ingredients that are part of secret Italian family recipes.

After this process, the prosciutto is tasty on its own, and many like to eat it raw. 

Should You Eat Prosciutto Raw?

Prosciutto is the king of cured meats. People love to eat thinly sliced cured meat in its raw form.

Raw Proscuitto

It does not mean you should eat it raw. Many recipes and dishes require you to cook or heat prosciutto slices. 

So, you can eat it raw, heated, or even cooked. It is completely a personal choice. The majority of meat lovers across the world like to eat it raw.

They combine it with various flavours and play around with recipes to retain the raw slices and enhance the final dish with other ingredients.

Can You Eat Prosciutto Crudo Raw?

Prosciutto comes in two varieties – crudo and cotto. While Crudo is raw, Cotto is cooked.

So, for those who want to enjoy prosciutto but are a little worried about raw meat and its dangers, you can opt for Cotto, where you cook or smoke the same thinly sliced pork legs. 

If you want to enjoy prosciutto like the majority of meat lovers across the world, then, you can definitely eat it raw.

It is safe and free of microbes when cured properly. You should just ensure it is from a place where they follow guidelines properly.

If you are eating prosciutto imported from Italy, you have very little to worry about. Italians have very high standards and strict guidelines when it comes to their prosciutto.

And to cross the border and reach other countries, they follow the guidelines very closely.

If you are eating locally sourced prosciutto, you need to ensure it is a well-reputed place that does not cut corners for profit.

Why Should You Avoid Eating Prosciutto Raw?

Any meat, when raw, has the risk of bacteria and microbes.

Prosciutto Crudo or prosciutto raw can carry listeria monocytogenes, among other pathogens, if you don’t follow storage guidelines.  

Prosciutto goes through a strict curing process, which should remove all bacteria and discourage microbe formation. If it is not sealed and stored properly, it can go bad soon. 

Bacteria and pathogens like Listeria can grow on it, making it dangerous for consumption.

The type or variety of prosciutto also influences the safety of the meat. Fresh slices of prosciutto can last only a few days.

So, if you were to eat prosciutto slices that are not fresh, you may be at risk.

When it comes to whole prosciutto pieces, they need to be sealed a certain way and stored at a particular temperature.

Not doing so can cause bacteria formation, making it dangerous for consumption.

Can You Eat Prosciutto Raw When Pregnant?

When it comes to pregnant women, prosciutto is not safe, and they must avoid eating this raw meat even if it is cured for many months.

They can eat prosciutto after heating or cooking it but not in its raw form.

If the prosciutto has Listeria, eating it can cause issues in both the pregnant woman and the unborn baby.

The impact can either be invasive or non-invasive. If it is non-invasive, it will only cause vomiting and nausea as a result of gastroenteritis.

If it is invasive, it can cause meningitis. 

Pregnancy is a delicate phase in a woman’s life, and listeria can even cause spontaneous abortion or stillbirth.

It is always advisable to avoid raw meat and eat it only after cooking to avoid such adverse outcomes.

If you heat your prosciutto, it needs to be hot enough to release steam.

Listeria is a strong pathogen that is present in the environment and many food products.

It can survive high salt concentrations, thus making prosciutto Crudo unsafe during pregnancy.

How Can Prosciutto Crudo Affect The Unborn Baby?

If a pregnant woman were to eat prosciutto raw, it could cause serious issues in the baby.

Sometimes, if very mild, the infection may not even reach the baby.

It will only affect the mother-to-be, which can be very unpleasant as she is already strained under pregnancy.

The impact on the baby can vary depending on when they get the infection.

If the listeria reaches the unborn child in the early stages, the pregnancy can come to an abrupt end. If the infection reaches them late, it can cause various birth defects.

Time Of InfectionEffect On Fetus
1st trimesterMiscarriage
2nd trimesterPremature birth/Instant abortion/Stillbirth
3rd trimesterStillbirth/Low birth weight/Intellectual disability/Paralysis/Seizure/Blindness/Brain impairment/Heart problems/Kidney issues

Can Children Eat Prosciutto Ham Raw?

Prosciutto di Parma is high in nutritional value and children can digest it easily. This makes it a very healthy and safe choice for children to eat.

You need to ensure it is from a well reputed brand, packed as per instructions.

The National Institute of Health does not recommend giving cold cut meats to children below one year.

According to some sources, prosciutto is safe for even children as young as 6 months.

Remember prosciutto is cured with salt. If you are not including salt in your child’s diet yet, you may want to rethink it.

If you are feeding your 6 month old baby prosciutto, do not add more salt to it and mash well before consumption.

Can You Eat Uncured Prosciutto Raw?

Prosciutto is the end result of raw ham undergoing the curing process.

When not cured with salt, the ham is just raw, and there are high chances of bacteria in it. These bacteria can be very dangerous to humans.

Prosciutto Slices

How Do You Eat Prosciutto Crudo Or Prosciutto Raw?

Wondering how to enjoy your prosciutto crudo? Here are some ideas to enjoy the carefully cured and aged meat in its purest form:

Salads

You can mix the raw prosciutto with some vegetables, cheese, and salad dressing, season it and eat it raw.

It can be very tasty and a very quick dish to make. You just have to mix all the ingredients in the desired ratio.

Sandwiches

Many like to have slices of prosciutto placed between slices of bread and eat it raw.

You can add some other meat variants, vegetables, or just cheese and have a fresh sandwich.

With Eggs

You can place the prosciutto slices in muffin trays and top them with egg and cheese for a crispy prosciutto and egg basket.

Since you cook the prosciutto, it can be safe for pregnant women to eat too.

Pasta

Add slices of prosciutto to your pasta for that extra flavour. You can add the slices raw or cook them with your pasta. If you cook it, even pregnant women can eat it.

One-Pot Recipes

You can add strips of prosciutto to your one-pot meals and cook them together. The cured meat will ooze out the flavour and make the dish more delicious. 

Can You Eat Prosciutto Out Of The Package?

It depends on the packing. If you buy a reliable brand that follows all packing instructions, you can open the pack and eat the raw slices in your sandwich or salad.

If the packing is not in line with the guidelines, then you may want to rethink it. It can be quite risky.

If you have slices, you can eat them the same way. If it is the entire ham leg like prosciutto di Parma, you need to slice it into smaller pieces before consumption.

You can choose to slice them thin or cut them into tiny bits to add to your dish.

How Are You Supposed To Eat Prosciutto?

Ask an Italian, and they are bound to tell you, you should eat your prosciutto raw in all its glory.

The Italians have perfected the art of curing, seasoning, and slicing prosciutto for raw consumption.

For those who want to be a little cautious and avoid food-borne diseases, it is best to cook the prosciutto or at least heat it before consumption.

The heat will kill listeria and other bacteria that may have contaminated the meat.

Final Thoughts 

Prosciutto is one of the all-time favourites for meat lovers. If you love your meat raw, then prosciutto crudo is one of your main go-to meat variants; for a pregnant woman who loves her prosciutto, avoiding it, especially when craving it, can be very challenging.

However, considering the baby’s safety, one must avoid raw prosciutto at all costs unless they are willing to take a big risk.

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